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J. F. C. HECKER, M.D. 











//' 4-.^^^. 


OtENERAL peeface. 

The Council of the Sydenham Society having deemed Hecker's 
three treatises on different Epidemics occurring in the Middle 
Ages worthy of being collected into a volume, and laid before its 
members in an English dress, I have felt much pleasure in pre- 
senting them with the copyright of the Black Death ; in negociat- 
ing for them the purchase of that of the Dancing Mania, 
whereof I could resign only my share of a joint interest ; and, in 
preparing for the press these productions, together with a trans- 
lation, now for the first time made public, of the Sweating 
Sickness. This last work, from its greater length, and from the 
immediate relation of its chief subject to our own country, may be 
considered the most interesting and important of the series. 

Professor Hecker is generally acknowledged to be the most 
learned medical historian, and one of the most able medical 
writers in Germany. His numerous works suffice to show not 
only with what zeal he has laboured, but also how highly his 
labours have been appreciated by his countrymen ; and when I 
state that, with one trifling exception, they have all been trans- 
lated into other languages, I furnish a fair proof of the estima- 
tion in which they are held in foreign countries ; and, so far at 
least as regards the originals, a full justification of the Council 
of the Sydenham Society in their choice on the present occasion. 

The " Schwarze Tod," or " Black Death," was published in 
1832 ; and I was prompted to undertake its translation, from a 
belief that it would prove interesting at a moment when another 
fearful epidemic, the Cholera, with which it admitted of com- 
parison in several particulars, wa,s fresh in the memory of men. 
The " Tanzwuth," or " Dancing Mania," came out shortly after- 
wards ; and, as it appeared to me that, though relating to a less 
terrific visitation, it possessed an equal share of interest, and, 
holding a kind of middle place between a physical and a moral 


pestilence, furnished subject of contemplation for the general as 
well as the professional reader, I determined on adding it also to 
our common stock of medical literature. When the " Englische 
Schweiss," or " Sweating Sickness," which contained much col- 
lateral matter little known in England, and which completed the 
history of the principal epidemics of the middle ages, appeared 
in 1834, I proceeded to finish my task ; but failing in the accom- 
plishment of certain arrangements connected with its publication, 
I laid aside my translation for the time, under a hope, which has 
at length been fulfilled, that at some future more auspicious 
moment, it might yet see the light. 

It must not be supposed that the author, in thus taking up 
the history of three of the most important epidemics of the 
middle ages, although he has illustrated them by less detailed 
notices of several others, considers that he has exhausted his sub- 
ject ; on the contrary, it is his belief, that, in order to come at 
the secret springs of these general morbific influences, a most 
minute as well as a most extended survey of them, such as can 
be made only by the united efforts of many, is required. He 
would seem to aim at collecting together such a number of facts, 
from the medical history of all countries and of all ages, as may 
at length enable us to deal with ej)idemics in the same way as 
Louis has dealt with individual diseases ; and thus by a numerical 
arrangement of data, together with a just consideration of their 
relative value, to arrive at the discovery of general laws. The 
present work, therefore, is but one stone of an edifice, for the 
construction of which he invites medical men in all parts of the 
world to furnish Inaterials.^ 

Whether the information which could be collected even by the 
most diligent and extensive research would prove sufficiently co- 
pious and accurate to enable us to pursue this method with com- 
plete success, may be a matter of doubt ; but it is at least 
probable, that many valuable facts, now buried in oblivion, would 
thus be brought to light ; and the incidental results, as often 
occurs in the pursuit of science, might prove as serviceable as 
those which were the direct object of discovery. Of what im- 
mense importance, for instance, in the fourteenth century, would 
a general knowledge have been of the simple but universal cir- 

1 I might here enlarge on the general importance of the study of epidemics ; but 
this has been so fully set forth in the author's Address to the Physicians of Germany, 
v.hich immediately follows, as well as in the Preface to the Sweating Sickness, at p. IGl, 
that any fujrther observations on this subject would be superfluous on my part. 


cumstance, that in all severe epidemics, from the time of Thucy- 
dides ^ to the present day, a false suspicion has been entertained 
by the vulgar, that the springs or provisions have been poisoned, 
or the air infected, by some supposed enemies to the common weal. 
How many thousands of innocent lives would thus have been 
spared, which were barbarously sacrificed under this absurd notion ! 

Whether Hecker's call for aid in his undertaking has, in any 
instance, been answered by the physicians of Germany, I know 
not ; but he will be as much pleased to learn, as I am to inform 
him, that it was the perusal of the " Black Death " which sug- 
gested to Dr. Simpson of Edinburgh the idea of collecting ma- 
terials for a history of the Leprosy, as it existed in Great Britain 
during the middle ages ; and that this author's very learned and 
interesting antiquarian researches on that subject, as published 
in the Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal, have been the 
valuable, and, I trust, will not prove the solitary result. 

As the three treatises, now comprised for the first time under 
the title of " The Epidemics of the Middle Ages," came out at 
difierent periods, I have thought it best to prefix to each the 
original preface of the author ; and to the two which have already 
been published in English, that of the translator also ; while 
Hecker's Address to the Physicians of Germany, although written, 
before the publication of the "Englische Schweiss," forms an ap- 
propriate substitute for an author's general preface to the whole 

At the end of the " Black Death," I had originally given, as 
No. III. of the Appendix, some copious extracts from Caius' 
" Boke or Counseill against the Disease commonly called the 
Sweate or Sweatyng Sicknesse;" but this little treatise is so 
characteristic of the times in which it is written, so curious, so 
short, and so very scarce,^ that I have thought it worth while, 
with the permission of the council of our Society, to reprint it 
entire, and to add it in its more appropriate place, as an Appendix 
to the Sweating Sickness. 

^ wcFTE Kal eXsxQri vtt' avrCJv u>q oi UskoTrovvrjffioi (papfjiaKa t.a^f^\r]Kouv kg ra 
(ppeara. Thucyd. Hist. B. ii. 49. " The disease was attributed by the people to poi- 
son, and nothing apparently could be more authentic than the reports that were spread 
of miscreants taken in the act of putting poisonous drugs into the food and drink of the 
common people." Observations on the Cholera in St. Petersburg, p. 9, by G. W. 
Lefevre, M.D. 8vo. 1831. 

- Only two copies are known to exist, one in the British Museum, and one in the 
library of the College of Physicians. 




By J. F. C. HECKER. 

It has long been my earnest desire to address my honoured col- 
leagues, especially those with whom I feel myself connected by 
congeniality of sentiment, in order to impress on thera a subject 
in which science is deeply interested, and which, according to the 
direct evidence of Nature herself, is one of the most exalted and 
important that can be submitted to the researches of the learned. 
I allude to the investigation of Epidemic Diseases, on a scale com- 
mensurate with the extent of our exertions in other departments, 
and worthy of the age in which we live. It is, with justice, re- 
quired of medical men, since their sole business is with life, that 
they should regard it in a right point of view. They are expect- 
ed to have a perception of life, as it exists individually and collect- 
ively: in the former, to bear in mind the general system of crea- 
tion ; in the latter, to demonstrate the connexion and signification 
of the individual phenomena,- — to discern the one by the aid of 
the other, and thus to penetrate, with becoming reverence, into 
the sanctuary of cosmical and microcosmical science. This ex- 
pectation is not extravagant, and the truth of the principles 
which the medical explorer of nature deduces from it, is so ob- 
vious, that it seems scarcely possible that any doubts should be 
entertained on the subject. 

Yet we may ask. Has medical science as it exists in our days, 
with all the splendour which surrounds it, with all the perfection 
of which it boasts, satisfied this demand ? This question we are 
obliged to answer in the negative. 

Let us consider only the doctrine of diseases, which has been 
cultivated since the commencement of scientific study. It has 


grown up amid the illumination of knowledge and the gloom of 
ignorance ; it has been nurtured by the storms of centuries ; its 
monuments of ancient and modern times cannot be numbered, 
and it speaks clearly to the initiated, in the languages of all civil- 
ized nations. Yet, hitherto, it has given an account only of in- 
dividual diseases, so far as the human mind can discern their 
nature. In this it has succeeded admirably, and its success be- 
comes every year greater and more extensive. 

But if we extend our inquiries to the diseases of nations, and 
of the whole human race, science is mute, as if it were not her 
province to take cognizance of them ; and shows us only an im- 
measurable and unexplored country, which many suppose to be 
merely a barren desert, because no one to whose voice they are 
wont to listen, gives any information respecting it. Small is the 
number of those who have traversed it; often have they arrested 
their steps, filled with admiration at striking phenomena ; have 
beheld inexhaustible mines waiting only for the hand of the la- 
bourer, and, from contemplating the development of collective 
organic life, which science nowhere else displays to them on so 
magnificent a scale, have experienced all the sacred joy of the 
naturalist to whom a higher source of knowledge has been open- 
ed. Yet could they not make themselves heard in the noisy tu- 
C mult of the markets, and still less answer the innumerable ques- 
tions directed to them by many, as from one mouth, not indeed to 
inquire after the truth, but to obtain a confirmation of an ancient- 
ly received opinion, which originated in the fifth century before 
our era. 

Hence it is, that the doctrine of epidemics, surrounded by the 
other flourishing branches of medicine, remains alone unfruitful — 
we might almost say stunted in its growth. For, to the weighty 
opinions of Hippocrates, to the doctrines of Fracastoro which con- 
tain the experience of the much-tried Middle Ages, and lastly to 
the observations of Sydenham, only trifling and isolated facts 
have been added. Beyond these facts there exist, even up to the 
present times, only assumptions, which might, long since, have 
been reduced to their original nothingness, had that serious spirit 
of inquiry prevailed which comprehends space and penetrates ages. 

]S o epidemic ever prevailed during which the need of more ac- 
curate information was not felt, and during which the wish of the 
learned was not loudly expressed, to become acquainted with the 
secret springs of such stupendous engines of destruction. "Was 
the disease of a new character ? — the spirit of inquiry was roused 



among physicians ; nor were the most eminent of them ever de- 
ficient either in courage or in zeal for investigation. When the 
glandular plague first made its appearance as an universal epi- 
demic, whilst the more pusillanimous, haunted by visionary fears, 
shut themselves up in their closets, some physicians at Constanti- 
nople, astonished at the phenomenon, opened the boils of the 
deceased. The like has occurred both in ancient and modern 
times, not without favourable results for science ; nay, more ma- 
tured views excited an eager desire to become acquainted with 
similar or still greater visitations among the ancients ; but as 
later ages have always been fond of referring to Grecian antiquity, 
the learned of those times, from a partial and meagre predilection, 
were contented with the descriptions of Thucydides, even where 
nature had revealed, in infinite diversity, the workings of her 

These researches, if indeed they deserved that name, were never 
scientific or comprehensive. They never seized but upon a part, 
and no sooner had the mortality ceased, than the scarcely awaken- 
ed zeal relapsed into its former indifference to the interesting phe- 
nomena of nature, in the same way as abstemiousness, which had 
ever been practised during epidemics, only as a constrained virtue, 
gave place, as soon as the danger was over, to unbridled indul- 
gence. This inconstancy might almost bring to our mind the 
pious Byzantines who, on the shock of an earthquake, in 529, 
which appeared as the prognostic of the great epidemic, prostrated 
themselves before their altars by thousands, and sought to excel 
each other in Christian self-denial and benevolence ; but no sooner 
did they feel the ground firm beneath their feet, than they again 
abandoned themselves, without remorse, to all the vices of the 
metropolis. May I be pardoned for this comparison of scientific 
zeal with other human excitements ? Alas ! even this is a virtue 
which few practise for its own sake, and which, with the multi- 
tude, stands quite as much in need as any other, of the incentives 
of fear and reward. 

But we are constrained to acknowledge that among our medical 
predecessors, these incentives were scarcely ever sufficiently 
powerful to induce them to leave us circumstantial and scientific 
accounts of contemporary epidemics, which, nevertheless, have, 
even in historical times, afflicted, in almost numberless visitations, 
the whole human race. Still less did it occur to them to take a 
more exalted stand, whence they could comprehend at one view 
these stupendous phenomena of organic collective life, wherein 


the whole spirit of humanity powerfully and wonderfully moves, 
and thus regard them as one whole, in which higher laws of na- 
ture, uniting together the utmost diversity of individual parts, 
might be anticipated or perceived. 

Here a wide, and almost unfathomable, chasm occurs in the 
science of medicine, which, in this age of mature judgment and 
multifarious learning, cannot, as formerly, be overlooked. His- 
tory alone can fill it up ; she alone can give to the doctrine of 
diseases that importance without which its application is limited 
to occurrences of the moment ; whereas the development of the 
phenomena of life, during extensive periods, is no less a problem 
of research for the philosopher, who makes the boundless science 
of nature his study, than the revolutions of the planet on which 
we move. In this region of inquiry the very stones have a lan- 
guage, and the inscriptions are yet legible which, before the crea- 
tion of man, were engraved by organic life in wondrous forms 
on eternal tablets. Exalted ideas of tlie monuments of primteval 
antiquity are here excited, and the forms of the antemundane 
ways and creations of nature are conjured up from the inmost 
bosom of the earth, in order to throw their bright beaming light 
upon the surface of the present. 

Medicine extends not so far. The remains of animals make us 
indeed acquainted, even now, with diseases to which the brute crea- 
tion was subject long ere the waters overflowed, and the moun- 
tains sunk ; but the investigation which is our more immediate ob- 
ject, scarcely reaches to the beginning of human culture. Records 
of remote and of proximate eras lie before us in rich abundance. 
They speak of the deviations and destructions of human life, of 
exterminated and newly-formed nations ; they lay before us stu- 
pendous facts, which we are called upon to recognise and expound 
in order to solve this exalted problem. If physicians cannot boast 
of having unrolled these records with the avidity of true explorers 
of Nature, they may find some excuse in the nature of the inquiry 
— for the characters are dead, and the spirits of which they are 
the magic symbols, manifest themselves only to him who knows 
how to adjure them. Epidemics leave no corporeal traces ; whence 
their history is perhaps more intellectual than the science of the 
Geologist, who, on his side, possesses the advantage of treating on 
subjects which strike the senses, and are therefore more attract- 
ive, — such as the impressions of plants no longer extant, and the 
skeletons of lost races of animals. This, however, does not en- 
tirely exculpate us from the charge of neglecting our science, in a 



quarter where the most important facts are to be unveiled. It is 
high time to make up for what has been left unaccomplished, if 
we would not remain idle and mean-spirited in the rear of other 

I was animated by these and similar reflections, and excited too 
by passing events, when I undertook to write the history of the 
'' Black Death," With some anxiety, I sent this book into the 
world, for it was scarcely to be expected that it would be every- 
where received with indulgence, since it belonged to a hitherto 
unknown department of histoiical research, the utility of which 
might not be obvious in our practical times. Yet I soon received 
encouragement, not only from learned friends, but also from other 
men of distinguished merit, on whose judgment I placed great re- 
liance ; and thus I was led to hope that it was not in vain, and 
without some advantage to science, that I had unveiled the dismal 
picture of a long-departed age. 

This work I have followed up by a treatise on a nervous dis- 
order, which, for the first time, appeared in the same century, as 
an eiDideraic, with symptoms that can be accounted for only by the 
sjjirit of the Middle Ages — symptoms which, in the manner of 
the diffusion of the disease among thousands of people, and of its 
propagation for more than two centuries, exercised a demoniacal 
influence over the human race, yet in close, though uncongenial, 
alliance with kindlier feelings. I have prepared materials for 
various other subjects, so far as the resources a* my disposal ex- 
tend, and I may hope, if circumstances prove favourable, to 
complete, by degrees, the histoiy of a more extensive series of 
Epidemics on the same plan as the " Black Death," and the 
"Dancing Mania." 

Amid the accumulated materials which past ages afford, the 
powers and the life of one individual, even with the aid of pre- 
vious stud}^, are insufficient to complete a comprehensive history 
of Epidemics. The zealous activity of many must be exerted if 
we would speedily possess a M^ork which is so much wanted in 
order that we may not encounter new epidemics with culpable 
ignorance of analogous phenomena. How often has it ajDpeared 
on the breaking out of epidemics, as if the experience of so many 
centuries had been accumulated in vain. Men gazed at the phe- 
nomena with astonishment, and even before they had a just per- 
ception of their nature, pronounced their opinions, which, as they 
were divided into strongly opposed parties, they defended with all 
the ardour of zealots, wholly unconscious of the majesty of all- 


governing nature. In the descriptive brandies of natural history, 
a person would infallibly expose himself to the severest censure, 
who should attempt to describe some hitherto unknown natural 
production, whether animal or vegetable, if he were ignorant of 
the allied genera and species, and perhaps neither a botanist nor 
zoologist ; yet an analogous ignorance of epidemics, in those who 
nevertheless discussed their nature, but too freq[uently occurred, 
and men were insensible to the justest reproof. Thus it has ever 
been, and for this reason we cannot apply to ourselves in this de- 
partment the significant words of Bacon, that we are the ancients, 
and our forefathers the moderns, for we are equally remote with 
them from a scientific and comprehensive knowledge of epidemics. 
This might and ought to be otherwise, in an age which, in other 
respects, may, with justice, boast of a rich diversity of knowledge, 
and of a rapid progress in the natural sciences. 

If in the form of an address to the physicians of Germany, I 
express the wish to see such a melancholy state of things remedied, 
the nature of the subject requires that, with the exception of the 
still prevailing Cholera, remarkable universal epidemics should bo 
selected for investigation. They form the grand epochs, accord- 
ing to which those epidemics which are less extensive, but not, on 
that account, less worthy of observation, naturally range them- 
selves. Far be it from me to recommend any fixed series, or even 
the plan and method to be pursued in treating the subject. It 
would, perhaps, be, on the whole, most advantageous, if my hon- 
oured Colleagues, who attend to this request, were to commence 
with those epidemics for which they possess complete materials, 
and that entirely according to their own plan, without adopting 
any model for imitation, for in this manner simple historical truth 
will be best elicited. Should it, however, be found impracticable 
to furnish historical descriptions of entire epidemics, a task often at- 
tended with difliculties, interesting fragments of all kinds, for 
which there are rich treasures in MSS. and scarce works in vari- 
ous places, would be no less welcome and useful towards the great 
object of preparing a collective history of epidemics. 

Up to the present moment, it might almost seem that the most 
essential preliminaries are wanting for the accomplishment of such 
an undertaking. The study of medical history is everywhere at 
a low ebb ; — in France and England scarcely a trace remains, to 
the most serious detriment of the whole domain of medicine ; in 
Germany too^ there are but few who suspect that inexhaustible stores 
of instructive truth are lying dormant within their power; they 


may, perhaps, class them among theoretical doctrines, and com- 
mend the laborious investigation of them without being willing 
to recognise their spirit. None of the Universities of Germany, 
whose business it ought to be to provide, in this respect, for the 
prosperity of the inheritance committed to their charge, can boast 
a Professor's chair for the History of Medicine; nay, in many, 
it is so entirely unknown, that it is not even regarded as an ob- 
ject of secondary importance, so that it is to be apprehended that 
the fame of German erudition may, at least in medicine, gradu- 
ally vanish, and our medical knowledge become, as practical in- 
deed, but at the same time as assuming, as mechanical, and as 
defective, as that of France and England. Even those noble in- 
stitutions, the Academies, in which the spirit of the eighteenth 
century still lingers, and whose more peculiar province it is to ex- 
plore the rich pages of science, have not entered upon the history 
of Epidemics, and by theii' silence have encouraged the unfound- 
ed and injurious supposition, that this field is desolate and un- 

All these obstacles are indeed great, but to determined and 
persevering exertion they are not insuperable ; and, though we 
cannot conceal them from ourselves, we should not allow them to 
daunt our spirit. There is, in Germany, a sufficiency of intellect- 
ual power to overcome them; let this power be combined, and 
exert itself in active co-operation. Sooner or later a new road 
must be oiDcned for Medical Science. Should the time not yet 
have arrived, I have at least endeavoured to discharge my duty, 
by attempting to point out its future direction. 



General Peeface v 

Hecker's Address . . . . . . . . . viii 


Translator's Preface xx 

Preface . xxiii 


General Observations . . . . . , . .1 

The Disease 2 

Causes. — Spread . 11 

Mortality 20 


Moral Effects . ...... . . .30 


Physicians . 47 

Appendix : — 

I. The Ancient Song of the Elagellants . . . .04 

II. Examination of the Jews accused of poisoning the Wells 70 




Translator's Preface 





Sect. 1. — St. John's Dance 
2.— St. Vitus's Dance 
3. — Causes . . . . 

4. — More ancient Dancing Plagues 
5. — Physicians 
G. — Decline and Termination of the Dancing Plague 




Sect, 1. — Tarantism .... 
2. — Most ancient Traces. — Causes 
3. — Increase .... 
4. — Idiosyncracies. — Music 
5. — Hysteria .... 
6. — Decrease .... 




Sect. 1. — Tigretier 




Appendix : — 

I. Extract from " Yita Gregorii XL," &c. . . . . 

II. From " Chronicon Magnum," &c. . . . . . 

III. From " die Limburger Chronik," &c. . . . . 

lY. From "die Chronica van Coellen," &c. . . . . 

Y. From "an Account of Convulsive Diseases in Scotland," &c. 

YI. Music for the Dance of the Tarantati, &c. . . . . 










. 164 



Sect.' 1. — Eruption 167 

2. — The Physicians 171 

3.— Causes 172 

4. — Other Epidemics 174 

5. — Richmond's Army ....... 175 

6. — Nature of the Sweating Sickness. — Preliminary Investi- 
gation ........ 176 



Sect. 1. — Mercenary Troops 
2. — New Circumstances 
3. — Sweating Sickness 
4. — Accompanying Phenomena . 
5. — Petechial Eever in Italy, 1505 
6. — Other Diseases 
7.— Blood Spots 










Sect. 1. — Poverty 

2. — Sweating Sickness 

3. — Causes 

4. — Habits of the English 

5. — Contagion . 

6. — Influenzas . 

7.— Epidemics of 1517 





Sect. 1.— 



-Destruction of the French Army before Naples, 1528 212 
-Trousse-Galant in France, 1528, and the following years 218 
-Sweating Sickness in England, 1528 .... 221 
-Natural Occurrences. — Prognostics .... 223 
-Sweating Sickness in Germany, 1529 .... 228 

the Netherlands . . ,236 

Denmark, Sweden, and Norway . 237 

. 239 
. 242 
. 245 
. 251 
. 258 

8.— Terror 

9. — Moral Consequences 
10. — The Physicians 
11. — Pamphlets 
12. — Form of the Disease 

ririH VISITATION. 1551. 

Sect. 1. — Irruption .... 
2. — Extension and Duration 
3. — Causes. — Natural Phenomena 
4. — Diseases .... 
5. — John Kaye .... 





Sect. 1. — The Cardiac Disease of the Ancients. (Morbus Cardiacus.) 284 
2.— The Picardy Sweat. (Suette des Picards— Suette Mi- 

liare.) 292 

3. — The Eoettiugen Sweating Sickness .... 301 

Chronological Survey . 306 

Catalogue of "Works referred to 313 

Appendix. — A Boke, or Counseill against the Disease commonly 
called the Sweate, or Sweatyng Sicknesse. By 
Jhon Caius . . . ' . . . .323 



Ix reading Dr. Hecker's account of the Black Death, which de- 
stroyed so large a portion of the human race in the fourteenth 
century, I was struck, not only with the peculiarity of the 
author's views, but also with the interesting nature of the facts 
which he has collected. Some of these have never before been 
made generally known, while others have passed out of mind, 
being effaced from our memories by subsequent events of a 
similar kind, which, though reallj' of less magnitude and import- 
ance, have, in the perspective of time, appeared greater, because 
they have occurred nearer to our own days. 

Dreadful as was the pestilence here described, and in few 
countries more so than in England, our modern historians only 
slightly allude to its visitation : — Hume deems a single paragraph 
sufficient to devote to its notice, and Henry and Rapin are equally 

It may not then be unacceptable to the medical, or even to the 
general reader, to receive an authentic and somewhat detailed 
account of one of the greatest natural calamities that ever afflict- 
ed the human race. 

My chief motive, however, for translating this small work, and 
at this particular period, has been a desire that, in the study of 
the causes which have produced and propagated general pesti- 
lences, and of the moral effects by which they have been follow- 
ed, the most enlarged views should be taken. The contagionist 
and the anti-contagionist may each iind ample support for his 
belief in particular cases ; but in the construction of a theory 
sufficiently comprehensive to explain throughout the origin and 
dissemination of universal disease, we shall not only perceive the 
insufficiency of either doctrine, taken singly, but after admit- 
ting the combined influence of both, shall even then find our views 
too narrow, and be compelled, in our endeavours to explain the 
facts, to acknowledge the existence of unknown powers, wholly 

teanslator's preface. xxi 

unconnected either witli communication by contact or atmospheric 

I by no means wish it to be understood, that I have adopted 
the author's views respecting astral and telluric influences, the 
former of which, at least, I had supposed to have been, with 
alchemy and magic, long since consigned to oblivion ; much less 
am I prepared to accede to his notion, or rather an ancient 
notion derived from the East and revived by him, of an organic 
life in the system of the universe. We are constantly furnished 
with proofs, that that which affects life is not itself alive ; and 
whether we look to the earth for exhalations, to the air for elec- 
trical phenomena, to the heavenly bodies for an influence over 
our planet, or to all these causes combined, for the formation of 
some unknown principle noxious to animal existence, still, if we 
found our reasoning on ascertained facts, we can perceive nothing 
throughout this vast field for physical research which is not evident- 
ly governed by the laws of inert matter — nothing which resembles 
the regular succession of birth, growth, decay, death, and regen- 
eration, observable in organized beings. To assume, therefore, 
causes of whose existence we have no proof, in order to account 
for effects which, after all, they do not explain, is making no real 
advance in knowledge, and can scarcely be considered otherwise 
than an indirect method of confessing our ignorance. 

Still, however, I regard the author's opinions, illustrated as 
they are by a series of interesting facts diligently collected from 
authentic sources, as, at least, worthy of examination before we 
reject them, and valuable, as furnishing extensive data on which 
to build new theories. 

I have another, perhaps I may be allowed to say a better, 
motive for laying before my countrymen this narrative of the 
sufferings of past ages, — that by comparing them with those of 
our own time, we may be made the more sensible how lightly the 
chastening hand of Providence has fallen on the present genera- 
tion, and how much reason, therefore, we have to feel grateful for 
the mercy shown us. 

The publication has, with this view, been purposely somewhat 
delayed, in order that it might appear at a moment when it is to 
be presumed that men's thoughts will be especially directed to 
the approaching hour of public thanksgiving, and when a know- 
ledge of that which they have escaped, as well as of that which 
they have suffered, may tend to heighten their devotional feel- 
ings on that solemn occasion. 

xxii translator's preface. 

"When we learn that, in the fourteenth century, one quarter, at 
least, of the population of the old world was swept away in the 
short space of four years, and that some countries, England among 
the rest, lost more than double that proportion of their inhabitants 
in the course of a few months, we may well congratulate our- 
selves that our visitation has not been like theirs, and shall not 
justly merit ridicule, if we offer our humble thanks to the " Crea- 
tor and Preserver of all mankind " for our deliverance. 

Nor would it disgrace our feelings if, in expiation of the abuse 
and obloquy not long since so lavishly bestowed by the public on 
the medical profession, we should entertain some slight sense of 
gratitude towards those members of the community, who were en- 
gaged, at the risk of their lives and the sacrifice of their personal 
interests, in endeavouring to arrest the progress of the evil, and 
to mitigate the sufferincrs of their fellow men. 

I have added, at the close of the Appendix, some extracts from 
a scarce little work in black letter, called " A Boke or Counseill 
against the Disease commonly called the Sweate or Sweatyng 
Sicknesse," published by Caius in 1552. This was written three 
years before his Lartin treatise on the same subject, and is so 
quaint, and, at the same time, so illustrative of the opinions of 
his day, and even of those of the fourteenth century, on the causes 
of universal diseases, that the passages which I have quoted will 
not fail to afford some amusement as well as instruction. If I 
have been tempted to reprint more of this curious production than 
was necessary to my primary object, it has been from a belief 
that it would be generally acceptable to the reader to gather some 
particulars regarding the mode of living in the sixteenth century, 
and to observe the author's animadversions on the degeneracy and 
credulity of the age in which he lived. His advice on the choice 
of a medical attendant cannot be too strongly recom.mended, at least 
hy a physician ; and his warning against quackery, particularly the 
quackery of ^;«?7?^ers, who " scorne {qu(ere score ?) yon behind 
your backs with their medicines, so filthy that T am ashamed to 
name them," seems quite prophetic. 

In conclusion, I beg to acknowledge the obligation which I 
owe to my friend Mr. H. E. Lloyd, whose intimate acquaintance 
with the German language and literature will, I hope, be re- 
ceived as a sufficient pledge that no very important errors remain 
in a translation which he has kindly revised. 

London, 1833. 


We here find an important page of the history of the world laid 
open to our view. It treats of a convulsion of the human race, 
unequalled in violence and extent. It speaks of incredible disas- 
ters, of despair and unbridled demoniacal passions. It shows us 
the abyss of general licentiousness, in consequence of an univer- 
sal pestilence, which extended from China to Iceland and Green- 

The inducement to unveil this image of an age, long since gone 
by, is evident. A new pestilence has attained almost an equal 
extent, and though less formidable, has partly produced, partly 
indicated, similar phenomena. Its causes, and its diffusion over 
Asia and Europe, call on us to take a comprehensive view of it, 
because it leads to an insight into the organism of the world, in 
which the sum of organic life is subject to the great powers of 
Nature, Now, human knowledge is not yet sufficiently advanced, 
to discover the connexion between the processes which occur above, 
and those which occur below, the surface of the earth, or even 
fully to explore those laws of nature, an acquaintance with which 
would be required ; far less to apply them to great phenomena, 
in which one spring sets a thousand others in motion. 

On this side, therefore, such a point- of view is not to be found, 
if we would not lose ourselves in the wilderness of conjectures, of 
which the world is already too full : but it may be found in the 
ample and productive field of historical research. 

History — that mirror of human life in all its bearings, offers, 
even for general pestilences, an inexhaustible, though scarcely 
explored, mine of facts ; here too it asserts its dignity, as the 
philosophy of reality delighting in truth. 

It is conformable to. its spirit to conceive general pestilences as 
events affecting the whole world — to explain their phenomena by 
the comparison of what is similar. Thus the facts speak for them- 
selves, because they appear to have proceeded from those higher 
laws which govern the progression of the existence of mankind. 
A cosraical origin and convulsive excitement, productive of the 


most important consequences among the nations subject to them, 
are the most striking features to ^Yhich history points in all gen- 
eral pestilences. These, however, assume very different forms, as 
well in their attacks on the general organism, as in their diffusion ; 
and in this respect a development from form to form, in the course 
of centuries, is manifest, so that the history of the world is divid- 
ed into grand periods in which positively defined pestilences pre- 
vailed. As far as our chronicles extend, more or less certain 
information can be obtained respecting them. 

But this part of medical history, which has such a manifold and 
powerful influence over the history of the world, is yet in its in- 
fancy. For the honour of that science which should everj'where 
guide the actions of mankind, we are induced to express a wish, 
that it may find room to flourish amidst the rank vegetation with 
which the field of German medical science is unhappily encum- 




That Omnipotence whicli has called the world with all its living 
creatures into one animated being, especially reveals himself in 
the desolation of great pestilences. The powers of creation come 
into violent collision ; the sultry dryness of the atmosphere ; the 
subterraneous thunders ; the mist of overflowing waters, are the 
harbingers of destruction. Nature is not satisfied with the ordin- 
ary alternations of life and death, and the destroying angel waves 
over man and beast his flaming sword. 

These revolutions are performed in vast cycles, which the spirit 
of man, limited, as it is, to a narrow circle of perception, is unable 
to explore. They are, however, greater terrestrial events than 
any of those which proceed from the discord, the distress, or the 
passions of nations. By annihilations they awaken new life ; and 
when the tumult above and below the earth is past, nature is re- 
novated, and the mind awakens from torpor and depression to the 
consciousness of an intellectual existence. 

Were it in any degree within the power of human research to 
draw up, in a vivid and connected form, an historical sketch of 
such mighty events, after the manner of the historians of wars 
and battles, and the migrations of nations, we might then arrive 
at clear views with respect to the mental development of the hu- 
man race, and the ways of Providence would be more plainly dis- 
cernible. It would then be demonstrable, that the mind of nations 
is deeply affected by the destructive conflict of the powers of na- 
ture, and that great disasters lead to striking changes in general 
civilization. For all that exists in man, whether good or evil, is 
rendered conspicuous by the presence of great danger. His in- 


most feelings are roused — the thought of self-preservation masters 
his spirit — self-denial is put to severe proof, and wherever dark- 
ness and barbarism prevail, there the affrighted mortal flies to the 
idols of his superstition, and all laws, human and divine, are 
criminally violated. 

In conformity with a general law of nature, such a state of ex- 
citement brings about a change, beneficial or detrimental, accord- 
ing to circumstances, so that nations either attain a higher degree 
of moral worth, or sink deeper in ignorance and vice. All this, 
however, takes place upon a much grander scale than through the 
ordinary vicissitudes of war and peace, or the rise and fall of em- 
pires, because the powers of nature themselves produce plagues, 
and subjugate the human will, which, in the contentions of nations, 
alone predominates. 



The most memorable example of what has been advanced, is 
afibrded by a great pestilence of the fourteenth century, which 
desolated Asia, Europe, and Africa, and of which the people yet 
preserve the remembrance in gloomy traditions. It was an ori- 
ental plague, marked by inflammatory boils and tumours of the 
glands, such as break out in no other febrile disease. On account 
of these inflammatory boils, and from the black spots, indicatory 
of a putrid decomposition, which appeared upon the skin, it was 
called in Germany and in the northern kingdoms of Europe, the 
Black Death, and in Ital}^, la Mortalega Grande, the Great 

Few testimonies are presented to us respecting its symptoms 
and its course, yet these are sufficient to throw light upon the form 
of the malady, and they are worthy of credence, from their co- 
incidence with the signs of the same disease in modern times. 

' La Mortalega Grande. Matth. de Griffonibus. Muratori. Script, rer. Italicar. 
T. XVIII. p. 167. D. They were called by others y4«(7e<jMa/^«rt. Andr. Gratiol. Dis- 
corso di Peste. Venet. 1576. 4to. Swedish: Diger-doden. Loccenii 'E.hiow Suecan. 
L. IIL p. 104. — Danish : den sorte Dod. Pontan. Ecr. Danicar. Histor. L. VIIT. p. 
476. — Amstelod. 1631, fol. Icelandic: Svaiiir Dmidi. Saabye, Tagebuch in Griinland. 
Introduction XVIII. Mansa, de Epidemiis maxime meraorabilibiis, qiire in Dania gras- 
satae sunt, &c. Part I. p. 12. Havnioe, 1831, 8. — In Westphalia the name of de groete 
Doet was prevalent. Meibom. 


The imperial writer, Kantakusenos,' whose own son, Androni- 
kus, died of this plague in Constantinople, notices great impos- 
thumes ^ of the thighs and arms of those affected, which, when 
opened, afforded relief by the discharge of an offensive matter. 
Buboes, which are the infallible signs of the oriental plague, are 
thus plainly indicated, for he makes separate mention of smaller 
boils on the arms and in the face, as also in other parts of the 
body, and clearly distinguishes these from the blisters,^ which are 
no less produced by plague in all its forms. In many cases, black 
spots* broke out all over the body, either single, or united and 

These symptoms were not all found in every case. In many 
one alone was sufficient to cause death, while some patients re- 
covered, contrary to expectation, though afflicted with all. Symp- 
toms of cephalic affection were frequent ; many patients became 
stupified and fell into a deep sleep, losing also their speech from 
palsy of the tongue ; others remained sleepless and without rest. 
The fauces and tongue were black, and as if suffused with blood ; 
no beverage would assuage their burning thirst, so that their 
sufferings continued without alleviation until terminated by death, 
which many in their despair accelerated with their own hands. 
Contagion was evident, for attendants caught the disease of their 
relations and friends, and many houses in the capital were bereft 
even of their last inhabitant. Thus far the ordinary circumstances 
only of the oriental plague occurred. Still deeper sufferings, how- 
ever, were connected with this pestilence, such as have not been 
felt at other times ; the organs of respiration were seized with a 
putrid inflammation ; a violent pain in the chest attacked the 
patient ; blood was expectorated, and the breath diffused a pesti- 
ferous odour. 

In the West, the following were the predominating symptoms 
on the eruption of this disease. ■' An ardent fever, accompanied by 
an evacuation of blood, proved fatal in the first three days. It 
appears that buboes and inflammatory boils did not at first come 
out at all, but that the disease, in the form of carbuncular {cmthrax- 

^ Joann. Cantacuzen. Historiar. L. IV. c. 8. Ed. Paris, p. 730. 5. The ex-cm- 
peror has indeed copied some passages from Thucydides, as Sprengel justly observes 
(Appendix to the Geschichte der Medicin. Vol. I. H. I. S. 73), though this was most 
probably only for the sake of rounding a period. This is no detriment to his credibility, 
because his statements accord -with the other accounts. 

^ 'AiroaraatiQ HEyaXai. ^ MtXaivai ipXvKriSec- * Mcmep (TTiyfiaTa fieXatm. 

5 Guidon, de CauliMO Chirurgia. Tract 11. c. 5. p. 113. Ed. Lugdun. 1572. 

1 * 


artigeii) aflfection of tlie lungs, effected the destruction of life be- 
fore the other symptoms were developed. 

Thus did the plague rage in Avignon for six or eight weeks, 
and the pestilential breath of the sick, who expectorated blood, 
caused a terrible contagion far and near ; for even the vicinity of 
those who had fallen ill of plague was certain death; ' so that pa- 
rents abandoned their infected children, and all the ties of kindred 
were dissolved. After this period, buboes in the axilla and in the 
groin, and inflammatory boils all over the body, made their ap- 
pearance ; but it was not until seven months afterwards that some 
patients recovered with matured buboes, as in the ordinary milder 
form of plague. 

Such is the report of the courageous Guy de Chauliac, who 
vindicated the honour of medicine, by bidding defiance to danger ; 
boldly and constantly assisting the affected, and disdaining the 
excuse of his colleagues, who held the Arabian notion, that medi- 
cal aid was unavailing, and that the contagion justified flight. He 
saw the plague twice in Avignon, first in the year 1348, from Janu- 
ary to August, and then twelve years later, in the autumn, when it 
returned from Germany, and for nine months spread general dis- 
tress and terror. The first time it raged chiefly among the poor, 
but in the year 1360, more among the higher classes. It now also 
destroyed a great many children, whom it had formerly spared, 
and but few women. 

The like was seen in Egypt. ^ Here also inflammation of the 
lungs was predominant, and destroyed quickly and infallibly, with 
burning heat and expectoration of blood. Here too the breath of 
the sick spread a deadly contagion, and human aid was as vain as 
it was destructive to those who approached the infected. 

Boccacio, who was an eye-witness of its incredible fatality in 
Florence, the seat of the revival of science, gives a more lively 
description of the attack of the disease than his non-medical con- 

It commenced here, not, as in the East, with bleeding at the 
nose, a sure sign of inevitable death ; but there took place at the 
beginning, both in men and women, tumours in the groin and in 

' Et fuit taiitse coiitagiositatis specialiter quoe fiiit cum spiito sanguinis, qnod non 
solum morando, sed etiam inspiciendo unus recipiebat ab alio : iutantum quod gentes 
moriebantur sine servitoribus, et scpeliebantur sine sacerdotibus, pater non visitabat 
filium, nee filius patrera : cbaritas erat raortua, spes prostrata. 

- Deguicjnes, Histoire geuerale des Huns, des Turcs, dcs Mogols, &c. Tom. IV. 
Taris, 1758. 4to. p. 226. 

^ Decameron. Giorn. I. Introd. 


the axilla, varying in circumference up to the size of an apple or 
an egg, and called by the people pest-boils (gavoccioli). Then 
there appeared similar tumours indiscriminately over all parts of 
the body, and black or blue spots came out on the arms or thighs, 
or on other parts, either single and large, or small and thickly 
studded. These spots proved equally fatal with the pest-boils, 
which had been from the first regarded as a sure sign of death. ^ 
No power of medicine brought relief — almost all died within the 
first three days, some sooner, some later, after the appearance of 
these signs, and for the most part entirely without fever ^ or other 
symptoms. The plague spread itself with the greater fury, as it 
communicated from the sick to the healthj^, like fire among dry 
and oily fuel, and even contact with the clothes and other articles 
which had been used by the infected seemed to induce the disease. 
As it advanced, not only men, but animals, fell sick and shortly 
expired, if they had touched things belonging to the diseased or 
dead. Thus Boccacio himself saw two hogs on the rags of a per- 
son who had died of plague, after staggering about for a short 
time, fall down dead, as if they had taken poison. In other places 
multitudes of dogs, cats, fowls, and other animals, fell victims to 
the contagion ; ^ and it is to be presumed that other epizootes 
among animals likewise took place, although the ignorant writers 
of the fourteenth century are silent on this point. 

In Germany there was a repetition in every respect of the same 
phenomena. The infallible signs of the oriental bubo-plague with 
its inevitable contagion were found there as everywhere else ; but 
the mortality was not nearly so great as in the other parts of Eu- 
rope."* The accounts do not all make mention of the spitting of 
blood, the diagnostic symptom of this fatal pestilence ; we are not, 
however, thence to conclude that there was any considerable miti- 
gation or modification of the disease, for we must not only take in- 
to account the defectiveness of the chronicles, but that isolated 
testimonies are often contradicted by many others. Thus, the 
chronicles of Strasburg, which only take notice of boils and glan- 
dular swellings in the axillse and groins,^ are opposed by another 

' From this period black petecliia3 have always been considered as fatal in the plague. 
2 A very usual circumstance in plague epidemics. 

^ Auger, de Biterris, Yitse Eomanor. pontificum, Muratori Scriptor. rer. Italic. 
Vol. III. Pt. II. p. 556. 

* Contin. altera Chronici Guillelmi de Nangis in d'Acher, Spicilegium sive CoUectio 
Veterum Scriptorum, &c. Ed. de la Barre, Tom. III. p. 110. 

* " The people all died of boils and inflamed glands which appeared under the arms 


account, according to which the mortal spitting of blood was met 
with in German}' ;• but this again is rendered suspicious, as the 
narrator postpones the death of those who were thus affected, to 
the sixth, and (even the) eighth day, whereas no other author 
sanctions so long a course of the disease ; and even in Strasburg, 
where a mitigation of the plague may, Avith most probability, be 
assumed, since in the year 1349 only 16,000 people were carried 
off, the generality expired by the third or fourth day,^ In Austria, 
and especially in Vienna, the plague was fully as malignant as any- 
where, so that the patients who had red spots and black boils, as 
well as those afflicted with tumid glands, died about the third 
day f and lastly, very frequent sudden deaths occurred on the 
coasts of the North Sea and in "Westphalia, without any further 
development of the malady/ 

To France, this plague came in a northern direction from Avig- 
non, and was there more destructive than in Germany, so that in 
many places not more than two in twenty of the inhabitants sur- 
vived. Many were struck, as if by lightning, and died on the 
spot, and this more frequently among the young and strong than 
the old ; patients with enlarged glands in the axillae and groins 
scarcely survived two or three days ; and no sooner did these fatal 
signs appear, than they bid adieu to the world, and sought conso- 
lation only in the absolution which Pope Clement YI. promised 
them in the hour of death, ^ 

In England the malady appeared, as at Avignon, with spitting 
of blood, and with the same fatality, so that the sick who were 
afflicted either with this symptom or with vomiting of blood, 
died in some cases immediatel}', in others witliin twelve hours, or 
at the latest, in two days." The inflammatory boils and buboes in 
the groins and axillae were recognised at once as prognosticating 
a fatal issue, and those were past all hope of recovery in whom 
they arose in numbers all over the body. It was not till towards 

and in tlic groins." Jac. v. Konigshoven, the oldest Clironiole of Alsace and Strasburg, 
and indeed of all Germany. Strasburg, 1698. 4. cap. 5, J 86. p. 301. 

^ Hainr. Rebdorff, Annates, Marq. Freher. Germanicarum rerum Scriptores. 
Francof. 1624. fol. p. 439. 

2 Konigshoven, in loc. cit. 

2 AnonjTn. Leobiens. Chron. L. YI. in Ilier. Fez, Scriptor. rer. Austriac. Lips. 
1721. fol. Tom. I. p. 970. The above-named appearances are here called, rote sjirinkel, 
swarcze erhiihenn und drxiesz under den iichsen nnd ze den geniachten. 

■1 Ubb. Emmiie rer. Frisiacar. histor. L. XIV. p. 203. Lugd. Bat. 1616. fol. 

* Guillelmus de Nangis, loc. cit. 

fl Ant. Wood, Histeria et Antiquitates Uuivcrsit. Oxonicns. Oxon. 1704. fol. L. 
1. p. 172. 


tlie close of the plague that they ventured to open, by incision, 
these hard and dry boils, when matter flowed from them in small 
quantity, and thus by compelling nature to a critical suppuration, 
many patients were saved. Every spot which the sick had 
touched, their breath, their clothes, spread the contagion ; and, 
as in all other places, the attendants and friends who were either 
blind to their danger or heroicallj'" despised it, fell a sacrifice to 
their sympathy. Even the eyes of the patient were considered 
as sources of contagion,^ which had the power of acting at a 
distance, whether on account of their unwonted lustre or the 
distortion which they always sufier in plague, or whether 
in conformity with an ancient notion, according to which the 
sight was considered as the bearer of a demoniacal enchantment. 
Flight from infected cities seldom availed the fearful, for the germ 
of the disease adhered to them, and they fell sick, remote from 
assistance, in the solitude of their country houses. 

Thus did the plague spread over England with unexampled 
rapidity, after it had first broken out in the county of Dorset, 
whence it advanced through the counties of Devon and Somer- 
set, to Bristol, and thence reached Gloucester, Oxford, and London. 
Probably few places escaped, perhaps not any ; for the annals of 
contemporaries report that throughout the land only a tenth part 
of the inhabitants remained alive. ^ 

From England the contagion was carried by a ship to Bergen, 
the capital of Norway, where the plague then broke out in its 
most frightful form, with vomiting of blood ; and throughout the 
whole country, spared not more than a third of the inhabitants. 
The sailors found no refuge in their ships ; and vessels were 
often seen driving about on the ocean and drifting on shore, whose 
crews had perished to the last man,^ 

In Poland the infected were attacked with spitting of blood, 
and died in a few days in such vast numbers, that, as it has been 
affirmed, scarcely a fourth of the inhabitants were left.^ 

1 Mezeray, Histoire de France. Paris, 1685. fol. T. II. p. 418. 

2 Barnes, who has given a lively picture of the hlack plague, in England, taken from 
the Eegisters of the 14th centm-y, describes the external symptoms in the following 
terms : knobs or swellings in the groin or under the armpits, called kernels, biles, blains, 
blisters, pimples, wheals, or plague-sores. The Hist, of Edw. III. Cambridge, 1688. 
fol. p. 432. 

^ TorfcBUS, Historia rerum Norvegicarum. Hafu. 1711. fol. L. ix. c. 8. p. 478. 
This author has followed Pontanus (Kerum Danicar. Historia. Amstelod. 1631. fol.), 
who has given only a general account of the plague in Denmark, and nothing respecting 
its symptoms. 

* Dlugoss, vide Longini Histor. polonic. L. xii. Lips. 1711. fol. T. I. p. 1086. 


Finally, ia Russia the plague appeared two years later than in 
Southern Europe ; yet here, again, with the same symptoms as 
elsewhere. Russian contemporaries have recorded that it began 
with rigor, heat, and darting pain in the shoulders and back ; that 
it was accompanied by spitting of blood, and terminated fatally 
in two, or at most three, days. It is not till the year 1360, that 
we find buboes mentioned as occurring in the neck, in the axillae, 
and in the groins, which are stated to have broken out when the 
spitting of blood had continued some time. According to the 
experience of Western Europe, however, it cannot be assumed 
that these symptoms did not appear at an earlier period.' 

Thus much, from authentic sources, on the nature of the Black 
Death. The descriptions which have been communicated contain, 
with a few unimportant exceptions, all the symptoms of the 
oriental plague which have been observed in more modern times. 
No doubt can obtain on this point. The facts are placed clearly 
before our eyes. We must, however, bear in mind that this 
violent disease does not always appear in the same form, and that 
while the essence of the poison which it produces, and which is 
separated so abundantly from the body of the patient, remains 
unchanged, it is proteiform in its varieties, from the almost im- 
perceptible vesicle, unaccompanied by fever, which exists for some 
time before it extends its poison inwardly, and then excites fever 
and buboes, to the fatal form in which carbuncular inflammations 
fall upon the most important viscera. 

Such was the form which the plague assumed in the 14th 
century, for the accompanying chest afiection which appeared in 
all the countries whereof we have received any account, cannot, 
on a comparison with similar and familiar symptoms, be con- 
sidered as any other than the inflammation of the lungs of modern 
medicine,^ a disease which at present only appears sporadically, 
and, owing to a putrid decomposition of the fluids, is probably 
combined with hemorrhages from the vessels of the lungs. Now, 
as every carbuncle, whether it be cutaneous or internal, generates 
in abundance the matter of contagion which has given rise to it, 
so, therefore, must the breath of the afiected have been poisonous 
in this plague, and on this account its power of contagion wonder- 

' W. M. Richter, Geschichte der Medicin in Russland. Moskwa, 1813, 8. p. 21o. 
rdehter has taken his information on the black plague in Russia, from authentic 
Russian MSS. 

2 Compare on this point, Balling' s treatise "Zur Diagnostik der Lungcnerweichimg." 
A'ol. XVI. ii. 3. p. 257 of litt. Annalen der ges. Heilkunde. 


fiilly increased ; wherefore the opinion appears incontrovertible, 
that owing to the accumulated numbers of the diseased, not only 
individual chambers and houses, but whole cities were infected, 
which, moreover, in the middle ages, were, with few exceptions, 
narrowly built, kept in a filthy state, and surrounded with 
stagnant ditches.' Flight was, in consequence, of no avail to the 
timid ; for even though they had sedulously avoided all communi- 
cation with the diseased and the suspected, yet their clothes were 
saturated with the pestiferous atmosphere, and every inspiration 
imparted to them the seeds of the destructive malady, which, in 
the greater number of cases, germinated with but too much 
fertility. Add to which, the usual propagation of the plague 
through clothes, beds, and a thousand other things to which the 
pestilential poison adheres, — a propagation, which, from want of 
caution, must have been infinitely multiplied ; and since articles 
of this kind, removed from the access of air, not only retain the 
matter of contagion for an indefinite period, but also increases its 
activity and engender it like a living being, frightful ill-con- 
sequences followed for many years after the first fury of the 
pestilence was past. 

The affection of the stomach, often mentioned in vague terms, 
and occasionally as a vomiting of blood, was doubtless only a 
subordinate symptom, even if it be admitted that actual hemate- 
mesis did occur. For the difficulty of distinguishing a flow of 
blood from the stomach, from a pulmonic expectoration of that 
fluid, is, to non-medical men, even in common cases, not in- 
considerable. How much greater then must it have been in so 
terrible a disease, where assistants could not venture to approach 
the sick without exposing themselves to certain death ? Only two 
medical descriptions of the malady have reached us, the one by 
the brave Guy de Chauliac, the other by Raymond Chalin de 
Vi?iario, a very experienced scholar, who was well versed in the 
learning of his time. The former takes notice only of fatal 
coughing of blood ; the latter, besides this, notices epistaxis, 
hematuria and fluxes of blood from the bowels, as symptoms of 
such decided and speedy mortalit}^, that those patients in whom 
they were observed, usually died on the same or the following day.^ 

1 It is expressly ascertained with respect to Avignon and Paris, that nncleanliness of 
the streets increased the plague considerably. Bairn. Chalin de Vinario. 

2 De Peste Libri tres, opera Jacobi Dalechampiim lucem editi. Lugduni, 1552. 16. 
p. 35. Dalechamp has only improved the language of this work, adding nothing to it 
but a preface in the form of two letters. Raymond Chalin de Vinario was contemporary 


That a vomiting of blood may not, here and there, have taken 
place, perhaps have been even prevalent in many places, is, from a 
consideration of the nature of the disease, by no means to be 
denied ; for every putrid decomposition of the fluids begets a 
tendency to hemorrhages of all kinds. Here, however, it is a 
question of historical certainty, which, after these doubts, is by 
no means established. Had not so sjDeedy a death followed the 
expectoration of blood, we should certainly have received more 
detailed intelligence respecting other hemorrhages ; but the 
malady had no time to extend its effects further over the extremi- 
ties of the vessels. After its first fury, however, was spent, the 
pestilence passed into the usual febrile form of the oriental plague. 
Internal carbuncular inflammations no longer took place, and 
hemorrhages became phenomena, no more essential in this than 
they are in any other febrile disorders. Chalin, who observed not 
only the great mortality of 1348, and the plague of 1360, but 
also that of 1373 and 1382, speaks moreover of affections of the 
throat, and describes the black spots of plague patients more 
satisfactorily than any of his contemporaries. The former appeared 
but in few cases, and consisted in carbuncular inflammation of the 
gullet, with a difficulty of swallowing, even to suffocation, to which, 
in some instances, was added inflammation of the ceruminous glands 
of the ears, with tumours, producing great deformity. Such 
patients, as well as others, were affected with expectoration of 
blood ; but they did not usually die before the sixth, and some- 
times even so late as the fourteenth, day.' The same occurrence, 
it is well known, is not uncommon in other pestilences ; as also 
blisters on the surface of the body, in different places, in the 
vicinity of which, tumid glands and inflammator}' boils, sur- 
rounded by discoloured and black streaks, arose, and thus indicated 
the reception of the poison. These streaked spots were called, by 
an apt comparison, the girdle, and this appearance was justly con- 
sidered extremely dangerous.^ 

with Gui/ de Chauliac at Avignon. He enjoyed a high reputation, and was in very 
affluent circumstances. He often makes mention of cardinals and high officers of the 
papal court, whom he had treated ; and it is even probahle, though not certain, that he 
was physician to Clement VI. (1342—1352), Innocent VI. (1352—1362), and Urban 
V. 1362 — 1370). He and Guy de Chauliac never mention each other. 

1 Dalechamp, p. 205 — where, and at pp. 32 — 36, the plague-eruptions are mentioned 
in the usual indefinite terms : Exanthemata viiidia, citrulea, nigra, rubra, lata, ditlusa, 
velut signata punctis, &c. 

~ " Pestilentis morbi gravissimum symptoma est, quod zonam vulgo nuncupant. Ea 
sic fit : PustuUe nonnunquam per febres pestilentes fuscic, nigra;, lividse existunt, in 




An inquiry into the causes of the Black Death will not be 
without important results in the study of the plagues which have 
yisited the world, although it cannot advance beyond general- 
ization without entering upon a field hitherto uncultivated, and, 
to this hour, entirely unknown. Mighty revolutions in the or- 
ganism of the earth, of which we have credible information, had 
preceded it. From China to the Atlantic, the foundations of the 
earth were shaken, — throughout Asia and Europe the atmosphere 
was in commotion, and endangered, by its baneful influence, both 
vegetable and animal life. 

The series of these great events began in the year 1333, fifteen 
years before the plague broke out in Europe : they first appeared 
in China. Here a parching drought, accompanied by famine, 
commenced in the tract of country watered by the rivers Kiang 
and Hoai. This was followed by such violent torrents of rain, in 
and about Kingsai, at that time the capital of the empire, that, 
according to tradition, more than 400,000 people perished in the 
floods. Finally the mountain Tsincheou fell in, and vast clefts 
were formed in the earth. In the succeeding year (1334), pass- 
ing over fabulous traditions, the neighbourhood of Canton was 
visited by inundations ; whilst in Tche, after an unexampled 
drought, a plague arose, which is said to have carried ofl" about 
5,000,000 of people. A few months afterwards an earthquake 
followed, at and near Kingsai ; and subsequent to the falling in 
of the mountains of Ki-ming-chan, a lake was formed of more 
than a hundred leagues in circumference, where, again, thousands 
found their grave. In Houkouang and Ho-nan a drought pre- 
vailed for five months ; and innumerable swarms of locusts de- 
par tibus corporis a glandularum emissariis sejunctis, ut in femore, tibia, capite, brachio, 
humeris, quarum fervore et caliditate succi corporis attracti, glandiilas in trajectioue 
replent, et attoUunt, undo bubones fiunt atque carbunculi. Ab iis tanqxmm solidu 
quidam nervus in partem vieina^n distentam ac veluti convulsione rigejitem producitur, 
puta brachiutn vel tibiam, mmc rubens^ mmc fuscus, nunc obscurior, nunc virens, nunc 
iridis colore, duos vel quatuor digitos latus. Hujus summo, qua desinit in emissarium, 
plerumque tuberculum pestilens visitur, altero vero extremo, qua in propinquuni mem- 
brum porrigitur, carbunculus. Hoc scilicet malum vulgus zonam cinctumve nominat, 
periculosum minus, cum hie tuberculo, illic carbunculo terminatur, quani si tuberculum 
in capite solum emineat." p. 198. 


stroyed the vegetation ; while famine and pestilence, as usual, 
followed in their train. Connected accounts of the condition of 
Europe before this great catastrophe, are not to be expected from 
the writers of the fourteenth century. It is remarkable, however, 
that simultaneously with*a drought and renewed floods in China, 
in 1336, many uncommon atmospheric phenomena, and in the 
winter frequent thunder storms, were observed in the north of 
France ; and so early as the eventful year of 1333, an eruption 
of Etna took place.' According to the Chinese annals, about 
4,000,000 of people perished by famine in the neighbourhood of 
Kiang in 1337 : and deluges, swarms of locusts, and an earth- 
quake which lasted six days, caused incredible devastation. In 
the same year, the first swarms of locusts appeared in Fran- 
conia, which were succeeded in the following year by myriads of 
these insects. In 1338, Kingsai was visited by an earthquake 
of ten days' duration ; at the same time France suffered from a 
failure in the harvest ; and thenceforth, till the year 1342, there 
was in China a constant succession of inundations, earthquakes, 
and famines. In the same year great floods occurred in the 
vicinity of the Rhine and in France, which could not be attributed 
to rain alone ; for everywhere, even on the tops of mountains, 
springs were seen to burst forth, and dry tracts were laid under 
water in an inexplicable manner. In the following year, the 
mountain Hong-tchang, in China, fell in, and caused a destruct- 
ive deluge ; and in Pien-tcheou and Leang-tcheou, after three 
months' rain, there followed unheard-of inundations, which de- 
stroyed seven cities. In Egypt and Syria, violent earthquakes 
took place ; and in China they became, from this time, more 
and more frequent ; for they recurred, in 1344, in Ven-tcheou, 
where the sea overflowed in consequence ; in 1345, in Ki-tcheou, 
and in both the following years in Canton, with subterraneous 
thunder. Meanwhile, floods and famine devastated various dis- 
tricts, until 1347, when the fury of the elements subsided in 

The signs of terrestrial commotions commenced in Europe in 
the year 1348, after the intervening districts of country in Asia 
had probably been visited in the same manner. 

On the island of Cyprus, the plague from the East had already 

^ V. Hoff. Geschiclite der natiirliclien Veranderuiigen der Erdoberflache, T. II. p. 
264. Gotha, 1824. This eruption was not succeeded by any other in the same century, 
either of Etna or of Vesuvius. 

2 Degitignes, loc. cit. p. 226, from Chinese sources. 


broken out ; when an earthquake shook the foundations of the 
island, and was accompanied by so frightful a hurricane, that the 
inhabitants, who had slain their Mahometan slaves in order that 
they might not themselves be subjugated by them, fled in dismay, 
in all directions. The sea overflowed — the ships were dashed to 
pieces on the rocks, and few outlived the terrific event, whereby 
this fertile and blooming island was converted into a desert. 
Before the earthquake, a pestiferous wind spread so poisonous 
an odour, that many, being overpowered by it, fell down suddenly 
and expired in dreadful agonies/:: 

This phenomenon is one of the rarest that has ever been ob- 
served, for nothing is more constant than the composition of the 
air ; and in no respect has nature been more careful in the j)re- 
servation of organic life. Never have naturalists discovered in 
the atmosphere foreign elements, which, evident to the senses, 
and borne by the winds, spread from land to land, carrying dis- 
ease over whole portions of the earth, as is recounted to have 
taken place in the year 1348. It is, therefore, the more to be 
regretted, that in this extraordinary period, which, owing to the 
low condition of science, was very deficient in accurate observers, 
so little that can be depended on respecting those uncommon 
occurrences in the air, should have been recorded. Yet, German 
accounts say expressly, that a thick, stinking mist advanced from 
the East, and spread itself over Italy f and there could be no 
deception in so palpable a phenomenon.^ The credibility of un- 
adorned traditions, however little they may satisfy physical re- 
search, can scarcely be called in question when we consider the 
connexion of events ; for just at this time earthquakes were more 
general than they had been within the range of history. In 
thousands of places chasms were formed, from whence arose 

1 Deguignes, loc. cit. p. 225, from Chinese sources. 

- There were also many locusts which had been blown into the sea by a hurricane, 
and afterwards cast dead upon the shore, and produced a noxious exhalation ; and a 
dense and mcful fog teas seen in the heavens, risitig in the East, and descending upon 
Italy. Mansfeld Chronicle, in M. Cyriac Spangenherg, chap, 287, fol. 336. b. Eisleben, 
1572. Compare Stamc?. Chron. (?) ra. Schnurrer (" Ingens vapor magnitudine horri- 
bili boreali movens, regionem, magno adspicientium ten-ore dilabitur"), and Ad. von 
Lebenwaldt, Land-Stadt-und Hausarzney-Buch. fol. p. 15. Nuremberg, 1695, who 
mentions a dark, thick mist which covered the earth. Chalin expresses himself on this 
subject in the following terms : — " Coelum ingravescit, a'er impiirus sentitur : nubes 
crasscB ac multce luminibus coeli obstruunt, immundus ac ignavus tepor hominum emollit 
corpora, exoriens sol pallescit.'' p. 50. 

^ See Caius' account of the causes of the sweating sickness, in the Appendix. — 


noxious vapours ; and as at that time natural occurrences were 
transformed into miracles, it was reported, that a fiery meteor, 
which descended on the earth far in the East, had destroyed every- 
thing within a circumference of more than a hundred leagues, 
infecting the air far and wide.' The consequences of innumerable 
floods contributed to the same effect ; vast river districts had been 
converted into swamps ; foul vapours arose everywhere, increased 
by the odour of putrified locusts, which had never perhaps darkened 
the sun in thicker swarms,^ and of countless corpses, which, even 
in the well-regulated countries of Europe, they knew not how to 
remove quickly enough out of the sight of the living. It is 
probable, therefore, that the atmosphere contained foreign, and 
sensibly perceptible, admixtures to a great extent, which, at least 
in the lower regions, could not be decomposed, or rendered ineffect- 
ive by separation. 

Now, if we go back to the symptoms of the disease, the ardent 
inflammation of the lungs points out that the organs of respiration 
yielded to the attack of an atmospheric poison — a poison, which, 
if we admit the independent origin of the Black Plague at any 
one place on the globe, which, under such extraordinary circum- 
stances, it would be difiicult to doubt, attacked the course of the 
circulation in as hostile a manner as that which produces inflam- 
mation of the spleen, and other animal contagions that cause 
swelling and inflammation of the lymphatic glands. 

Pursuing the course of these grand revolutions further, we find 
notice of an unexampled earthquake, which, on the 25th of 
Januar}'-, 1348, shook Greece, Italy, and the neighbouring coun- 
tries. Naples, Rome, Pisa, Bologna, Padua, Venice, and many 
other cities suffered considerably : whole villages were swallowed 
up. Castles, houses, and churches were overthrown, and hundreds 
of people were buried beneath their ruins.^ In Carinthia, thirty 
villages, together with all the churches, were demolished ; more 
than a thousand corpses were drawn out of the rubbish ; the city 
of Yillach was so completely destroyed, that very few of its in- 
habitants were saved ; and when the earth ceased to tremble, it 
M'as found that mountains had been moved from their positions, 

' Mezeray, Histoire de France, Tom. II. 418. Paris, 1685. Compare Oudegheerst' s 
Chroniques de Flandres. Antwerp, 1571, 4to. Chap. 175, f. 297. 

- They spread in a direction from East to "West, over most of the countries from 
which we have received intelligence. Anonym. Leobiens, Chron. loc. cit. 

' Giov. Villani Istorie Florentine, L. XII. chap. 121, 122. in Muratori, T. XIII. pp. 
1001, 1002. Compare Barnes, loc. cit. p. 430. 


and that many hamlets were left in ruins.^ It is recorded that, 
during this earthquake, the wine in the casks became turbid, a 
statement which may be considered as furnishing a proof, that 
changes causing a decomposition of the atmosphere had taken 
place ; but if we had no other information from which the excite- 
ment of conflicting powers of nature during these commotions 
might be inferred, yet scientific observations in modern times 
have shown, that the relation of the atmosphere to the earth is 
changed by volcanic influences. Why, then, may we not, from 
this fact, draw retrospective inferences respecting those extra- 
ordinary phenomena ? 

Independently of this, however, we know that during this earth- 
quake, the duration of which is stated by some to have been a 
week, and by others a fortnight, people experienced an unusual 
stupor and head-ache, and that many fainted away.'^ 

These destructive earthquakes extended as far as the neighbour- 
hood of Basle,^ and recurred until the year 1360, throughout 
Germany, France, Silesia, Poland, England, and Denmark, and 
much further north.'* 

Great and extraordinary meteors appeared in many places, and 
were regarded with superstitious horror. A pillar of fire, which 
on the 20th of December, 1348, remained for an hour at sunrise 
over the pope's palace in Avignon ;'' a fireball, which in August of 
the same year was seen at sunset over Paris, and was distinguished 
from similar phenomena by its longer duration,^ not to mention 
other instances mixed up with wonderful prophecies and omens, 
are recorded in the chronicles of that age. 

The order of the seasons seemed to be inverted, — rains, floods, 
and failures in crops were so general, that few places were exempt 
from them ; and though an historian of this century assures us 
that there was an abundance in the granaries and storehouses,'^ all 
his contemporaries, with one voice, contradict him. The conse- 
quences of failure in the crops were soon felt, especially in Italy 

^ J. Vitoduran. Chronicon, in Fiissli. Thesaurus'Rhiov. Helvet. Tigur. 1735. fol. p. 81. 

- Albert. Argentini(i7is. Chronic, in Urstis. Scriptor. rer. Germanic. Francof. 1585. 
fol. P. TI. p. 147. Compare Chalin, loc. cit. 

3 Petrarch. Opera. Basil. 1554. fol. p. 210. Barnes, loc. cit. p. 431. 

* " Tin tremblement de terra universel, mesme en France et aux pays septentrionaux, 
renversoit les villes toutes entiferes, deracinoit les arbrcs et les montagnes, et remplissoit 
les campagnes d'abysmes si profondes, qu'il semblait que I'enfer eut vonlu engloutir le 
genre Immain." Mezeray, loc. cit. p. 418. Barnes, p. 431. 

5 Villani, loc. cit. c. 119. p. 1000. 

6 GniUelm. de Kangis, Cont. alt. Chron. loc. cit. p. 109. 

7 Ibid. p. 110. 


and the surrounding countries, where, in this year, a rain which 
continued for four months had destroyed the seed. In the larger 
cities, they were compelled, in the spring of 1347, to have re- 
course to a distribution of bread among the poor, particularly at 
Florence, where they erected large bake-houses, from which, in 
April, ninety-four thousand loaves of bread, each of twelve ounces 
in weight, were daily dispensed.' It is plain, however, that hu- 
manity could only partially mitigate the general distress, not 
altogether obviate it. 

Diseases, the invariable consequence of famine, broke out in 
the country, as well as in cities ; children died of hunger in their 
mothers' arms, — want, misery, and despair, were general through- 
out Christendom.^ 

Such are the events which took place before the eruption of the 
Black Plague in Europe. Contemporaries have explained them 
after their own manner, and have thus, like their posterity, under 
similar circumstances, given a proof, that mortals possess neither 
senses nor intellectual powers sufficiently acute to comprehend the 
phenomena produced by the earth's organism, much less scien- 
tifically to understand their effects. Superstition, selfishness in 
a thousand forms, the presumption of the schools, laid hold of un- 
connected facts. They vainly thought to comprehend the whole 
in the individual, and perceived not the universal spirit which, in 
intimate union with the mighty powers of nature, animates the 
movements of all existence, and permits not any phenomenon to 
originate from isolated causes. To attempt, five centuries after 
that age of desolation, to point out the causes of a cosmical com- 
motion, which has never recurred to an equal extent, — to indicate 
scientifically the influences which called forth so terrific a poison 
in the bodies of men and animals, exceeds the limits of human 
vmderstanding. If we are even now unable, with all the varied 
resources of an extended knowledge of nature, to define that 
condition of the atmosphere by which pestilences are gener- 
ated, still less can we pretend to reason retrospectively from the 
nineteenth to the fourteenth century; but if we take a general 
view of the occurrences, that century will give us copious inform- 
ation, and, as applicable to all succeeding times, of high im- 

1 Villani, loc. cit. c. 72. p. 954. 

2 Anonym. Istorie Pistolesi, in Muratori, T. XI. p. 524. " Ne gli anni di Chr. 1346 
et 13 i7, fu grandissima carestia in tutta la Christianita, in tanto, clic molta gente moria 
di fame, c fu grande mortalita in ogni paeso del mondo." 


In the progress of connected natural phenomena, from East to 
West, that great law of nature is plain!};' revealed which has so 
often and evidently manifested itself in the earth's organism, as 
well as in the state of nations dependent upon it. In the inmost 
depths of the globe, that impulse was given in the year 1333, 
which in uninterrupted succession for six-and-twenty years shook 
the surface of the earth, even to the western shores of Europe. 
From the very beginning the air partook of the terrestrial con- 
cussion, atmospherical waters overflowed the land, or its plants 
and animals perished under the scorching heat. The insect tribe 
was wonderfully called into life, as if animated beings were des- 
tined to complete the destruction which astral and telluric powers 
had begun. Thus did this dreadful work of nature advance from 
year to year ; it was a progressive infection of the Zones, which 
exerted a powerful influence both above and beneath the surface 
of the earth ; and after having been perceptible in slighter indi- 
cations, at the commencement of the terrestrial commotions in 
China, convulsed the whole earth. 

The nature of the first plague in China is unknown. We have 
no certain intelligence of the disease, until it entered the western 
countries of Asia. Here it showed itself as the oriental plague 
with inflammation of the lungs ; in which form it probably also 
may have begun in China, that is to say, as a malady which 
spreads, more than any other, by contagion — a contagion, that, in 
ordinary pestilences, requires immediate contact, and only under 
unfavourable circumstances of rare occurrence is communicated 
by the mere approach to the sick. The share which this cause 
had in the spreading of the plague over the whole earth, was 
certainly very great : and the opinion that the Black Death 
might have been excluded from Western Europe, by good regula- 
tions, similar to those which are now in use, would have all the 
support of modern experience, provided it could be proved that 
this plague had been actually imported from the East ; or that 
the oriental plague in general, whenever it appears in Europe, 
has its origin in Asia or Egypt. Such a proof, however, can by 
no means be produced so as to enforce conviction ; for it would 
involve the impossible assumption, either that there is no essential 
difference between the degree of civilization of the European 
nations, in the most ancient and in modern times, or that detri- 
mental circumstances, which have yielded only to the civilization 
of human society and the regular cultivation of countries, could 
not formerly keep up the glandular plague. 


The plague was, however, known in Europe before nations were 
united by the bonds of commerce and social intercourse ;^ hence 
there is ground for supposing that it sprung up spontaneously, in 
consequence of the rude manner of living and the uncultivated 
state of the earth ; influences which peculiarly favour the origin 
of severe diseases. Now we need not go back to the earlier cen- 
turies, for the 14th itself, before it had half expired, was visited 
by five or six pestilences.^ 

If, therefore, we consider the peculiar property of the plague, 
that, in countries which it has once visited, it remains for a long 
time in a milder form, and that the epidemic influences of 1342, 
when it had appeared for the last time, were particularly favour- 
able to its unperceived continuance, till 1348, we come to the 
notion, that in this eventful year also, the germs of plague ex- 
isted in Southern Europe, which might be vivified by atmospheri- 
cal deteriorations ; and that thus, at least in part, the Black 
Plague may have originated in Europe itself. The corruption of 
the atmosphere came from the East ; but the disease itself came 
not upon the wings of the wind, but was only excited and in- 
creased by the atmosphere where it had previously existed. 

This source of the Black Plague was not, however, the only 
one ; for, far more powerful than the excitement of the latent 
elements of the plague by atmospheric influences, was the efiect of 
the contagion communicated from one people to another, on the 
great roads, and in the harbours of the Mediterranean. From 
China, the route of the caravans lay to the north of the Caspian 
Sea, through Central Asia, to Tauris. Here ships were ready to 
take the produce of the East to Constantinople, the capital of 
commerce, and the medium of connexion between Asia, Europe, 
and Africa.^ Other caravans went from India to Asia Minor, 
and touched at the cities south of the Caspian Sea, and lastly 
from Bagdad, through Arabia to Egypt ; also the maritime com- 
munication on the Ped Sea, from India to Arabia and Egypt, was 
not inconsiderable. In all these directions contagion made its 

• According to Papon, its origin is quite lost i-n the obscurity of remote ages ; and 
even before the Christian Era, we are able to trace many references to former pesti- 
lences. De la peste, ou epoques memorables de ce fleau, et les moyens de s'en preserver. 
T. II. Paris, An VIII. de la rep. 8. 

2 1301, in the South of France; 1311, in Italy; 1316, in Italy, Burgundy, and 
Northern Europe; 1335, the locust year, in the middle of Europe; 1340, in Upper 
Italy ; 1342, in France ; and 1347, in Marseilles and most of the larger islands of the 
Mediterranean. Ibid. T. II. p. 273. 

3 Compare Deguignes, loc. cit. p. 288. 


way ; and doubtless, Constantinople and tlie harbours of Asia 
Minor, are to be regarded as the foci of infection ; whence it radi- 
ated to the most distant seaports and islands. 

To Constantinople, the plague had been brought from the north- 
ern coast of the Black Sea,^ after it had depopulated the coun- 
tries between those routes of commerce ; and appeared as early as 
1847, in Cyprus, Sicily, Marseilles, and some of the seaports of 
Italy. The remaining islands of the Mediterranean, particularly 
Sardinia, Corsica, and Majorca, were visited in succession. Foci 
of contagion existed also in full activity along the whole southern 
coast of Europe ; when, in January 1348, the plague appeared in 
Avignon,^ and in other cities in the south of France and north of 
Italy, as well as in Spain. 

The precise days of its eruption in the individual towns, are no 
longer to be ascertained ; but it was not simultaneous ; for in 
Florence, the disease appeared in the beginning of April f in 
Cesena, the 1st of June ;* and place after place was attacked 
throughout the whole year ; so that the plague, after it had pass- 
ed through the whole of France and Germany, where, however, 
it did not make its ravages until the following year, did not break 
out till August, in England ; where it advanced so gradually, that 
a period of three months elapsed before it reached London,^ The 
northern kingdoms were attacked by it in 1349. Sweden, indeed, 
not until November of that year : almost two years after its erup- 
tion in Avignon.^ Poland received the plague in 1349, probably 
from Germany,^ if not from the northern countries ; but in Russia, 
it did not make its appearance until 1351, more than three years 
after it had broken out in Constantinople. Instead of advancing 
in a north-westerly direction from Tauris and from the Caspian 
Sea, it had thus made the great circuit of the Black Sea, by way 
of Constantinople, Southern and Central Europe, England, the 
northern kingdoms and Poland, before it reached the Russian 
territories ; a phenomenon which has not again occurred with 
respect to more recent pestilences originating in Asia. 

1 According to the general Byzantine designation, " from the country of the hyper- 
borean Scythians." Kaiitakuzen, loc. cit. 

2 Guid. Gauliac, loc. cit. 

3 Matt. Villani, Istorie, in Muratori, T. XIV. p. 14. 

* Annal. Caesenat, Ibid. p. 1179. ^ Barnes, loc. cit. 

6 Olnf Dalin's Sveal^Rikes Historie, TIL vol. Stockholm, 1747—61, 4. Vol. II. C 
12, p. 496. 
■> Dlugoss, Histor. Polon. L. IX. p. 1086, T. I. Lips. 1711, fol. 

2 * 


Whether any difference existed between the indigenous plague, 
excited by the influence of the atmosphere, and that which was 
imported by contagion, can no longer be ascertained from facts ; 
for the contemporaries, who in general wei-e not competent to 
make accurate researches of this kind, have left no data on the 
subject. A milder and a more malignant form certainly existed, 
and the former was not always derived from the latter, as is to be 
supposed from this circumstance — that the spitting of blood, the 
infallible diagnostic of the latter, on the first breaking out of the 
plague, is not similarly mentioned in all the reports ; and it is 
therefore probable, that the milder form belonged to the native 
plague, — the more malignant, to that introduced by contagion. 
Contagion was, however, in itself, only one of many causes which 
gave rise to the Black Plague. 

This disease was a conseqiience of violent commotions in the 
earth's organism — if any disease of cosmical origin can be so con- 
sidered. One spring set a thousand others in motion for the an- 
nihilation of living beings, transient or permanent, of mediate or 
immediate effect. The most powerful of all was contagion ; for 
in the most distant countries, which had scarcely yet heard the 
echo of the first concussion, the people fell a sacrifice to organic 
poison, — the untimely offspring of vital energies thrown into 
violent commotion. 



We have no certain measure by which to estimate the ravages of 
the Black Plague, if numerical statements were wanted, as in 
modern times. Let us go back for a moment to the 14th century. 
The people were yet but little civilized. The church had indeed sub- 
dued them ; but they all suffered from the ill consequences of their 
original rudeness. The dominion of the law was not j^et confirm- 
ed. Sovereigns had everywhere to combat powerful enemies to 
internal tranquillity and security. The cities were fortresses for 
their own defence. Marauders encamped on the roads. — The hus- 
bandman was a feodal slave, without possessions of his own. — 
Rudeness was general. — Humanity, as yet unknown to the people. 
— Witches and heretics were burned alive. — Gentle rulers were 


contemned as weak ; — wild passions, severity, and cruelty, every- 
whei'e predominated. — Human life was little regarded. — Govern- 
ments concerned not themselves about the numbers of their sub- 
jects, for whose welfare it was incumbent on them to provide. 
Thus, the first requisite for estimating the loss of human life, 
namely, a knowledge of the amount of the population, is altogether 
wanting ; and, moreover, the traditional statements of the amount 
of this loss are so vague, that from this source likewise there is 
only room for probable conjecture. 

Kairo lost daily, when the plague was raging with its greatest 
violence, from 10 to 15,000 ; being as many as, in modern times, 
great plagues have carried off during their whole course. In 
China, more than thirteen millions are said to have died ; and 
this is in correspondence with the certainly exaggerated accounts 
from the rest of Asia. India was depopulated. Tartary, the Tar- 
tar kingdom of Kaptschak, Mesopotamia, Syria, Armenia, were 
covered with dead bodies — the Kurds fled in vain to the moun- 
tains. In Caramania and Cassarea, none were left alive. On the 
roads, — in the camps^ — in the caravansaries, — unburied bodies 
alone were seen ; and a few cities only (Arabian historians name 
JNIaara el nooman, Schisur, and Harem) remained, in an unaccount- 
able manner, free. In Aleppo, 500 died daily ; 22,000 people, 
and most of the animals, were carried off in Gaza within six 
weeks. Cyprus lost almost all its inhabitants ;^ and ships with- 
out crews were often seen in the Mediterranean, as afterwards in 
the North Sea, driving about, and spreading the plague wherever 
they went on shore.^ It was reported to Pope Clement, at Avig- 
non, that throughout the East, probably with the exception of 
China, 23,840,000 people had fallen victims to the plague.* Con- 
sidering the occurrences of the 14th and 15th centuries, we might, 
on first view, suspect the accuracy of this statement. How (it 
might be asked) could such great wars have been carried on — such 
powerful efforts have been made ; how could the Greek empire, 
only a hundred years later, have been overthrown, if the people 
really had been so utterly destroyed? 

This account is nevertheless rendered credible by the ascertain- 
ed fact, that the palaces of princes are less accessible to contagious 
diseases than the dwellings of the multitude ; and that in places 
of importance, the influx from those districts which have suffered 
least soon repairs even the heaviest losses. We must remember, 

' Deguigjies, loc. cit. p. 223, f. ^ ]ifatt. Villani, Istoria, loc. cit. p. 13. 

^ Knighton, in Barnes, loc. cit. p. 434. 


also, that we do not gather much from mere numbers without an 
intimate knowledge of the state of society. We will, therefore, 
confine ourselves to exhibiting some of the more credible accounts 
relative to European cities. 

In Florence there died of the Black 

Plague 60,000 > 

In Venice 100,000 ^ 

In INIarseilles, in one month . . 16,000 ^ 

In Siena 70,000* 

In Paris 50,000' 

In St. Denys 14,000 ' 

In Avignon 60,000^ 

In Strasburg 16,000 « 

InLiibeck 9,000'' 

In Basle 14,000 

In Erfurt, at least 16,000 

In Weimar 5,000 '' 

InLimburg 2,500 ^^ 

' Jno. Trithem, Annal. Hirsaugiens. (Monast. St. Gall. Hirsaug. 1690.;fol.) T. II. 
p. 296. According to Boccacio, loc. cit. 100,000 ; according to Matt. Villani, loc. cit. 
p. 14, three out of five. 

2 Odoric. Raynald. Arnial. ecclesiastic. Colon. Agripp. 1691. fol. Vol. XVI. p. 280. 

* Vitoduran. Chronic, in Fiissli, loc. cit. 

* Tromby, Storia de S. Brunone e dell' ordine Cartusiano. Vol. VI. L. VIII. p. 
235. Napol. 1777. M. 

5 Barnes, p. 435. ^ Ibid. 

■^ Baluz. Vitoe Papar, Avenionens. Paris, 1693 — 4. Vol. I. p. 316. According to 
Rebdorf in Freher. loc. cit. at the worst period, 500 daily. 

^ Kbnigshoven, loc. cit. 

9 According to Reimar Kork, from Easter to Michaelmas 1350, 80 to 90,000 ; among 
whom were eleven members of the senate, and Bishop John IV. Vid. John Rud. Becker, 
Circumstantial History of the Imper. and free city of Liibcck. Liibeck, 1782, 84, 
1805. 3 Vols. 4, Vol. I. p. 269. 71. Although Liibeck was then in its most flourishing 
state, yet this account, which agrees with that of Paul Lange, is certainly exaggerated. 
(Chronic. Citizense, in /. Pistorhts, Rerum Germanic. Scriptores aliquot insignes, cur, 
Struve. Eatisb. 1626. fol. p. 1214.) "We have, therefore, chosen the lower estimate of 
an anonym, writer. Chronic. Sclavic. by Erpold Liiidenbrog. Scriptores rerum Ger- 
manic. Septentrional, vicinorumque populor. diversi, Francof. 1630. fol. p. 225, and 
Spangenberg. loc. cit., with whom again the assurance of the two authors, that on the 
10th August, 1350, 15 or 1700 (according to Becker 2500) persons had died, does not 
coincide. Compare Chronik des Franciskaner Lesemeisters Detmar, nach der Urschrift 
und mit Ergiinzungen aus anderen Chroniken herausgeg. published by F. H. Grautoff. 
Hamburg, 1829, 30. 8. P. I. p. 269. App. 471. 

'0 Forstemann, Versuch einer Geschichte der christlichen Geisslergesellschaften, in 
Stdudlin's imd Tzschirner's, Archiv fiir alte und neue Kirchengeschichte, Vol. III. 

1' Limburg Chronicle, pub. by C. D. Vogel. Marburg, 1828. 8vo. p. 14. 


In London, at least 100,000 ' 

In Norwich 51,100 ^ 

To which may be added — 
Franciscan Friars in Germany . 124,434 ^ 
Minorites in Italy 30,000 * 

This short catalogue might, by a laborious and uncertain cal- 
culation, deduced from other sources, be easily further multiplied, 
but would still fail to give a true picture of the depopulation which 
took place. Liibeck, at that time the Venice of the North, which 
could no longer contain the multitudes that flocked to it, was 
thrown into such consternation on the eruption of the plague, that 
the citizens destroyed themselves as if in frenzy. 

Merchants whose earnings and possessions were unbounded, 
coldly and willingly renounced their earthly goods. They carried 
their treasures to monasteries and churches, and laid them at the 
foot of the altar ; but gold had no charms for the monks, for it 
brought them death. They shut their gates ; yet, still it was cast 
to them over the convent walls. People would brook no impedi- 
ment to the last pious work to which they were driven by despair. 
When the plague ceased, men thought they were still wandering 
among the dead, so appalling was the livid aspect of the survivors, 
in consequence of the anxiety they had undergone, and the un- 
avoidable infection of the air.^ Many other cities probably pre- 
sented a similar appearance ; and it is ascertained that a great 
number of small country towns and villages, which have been es- 
timated, and not too highly, at 200,000,'' were bereft of all their 

In many places in France not more than two out of twenty of 
the inhabitants were left alive,^ and the capital felt the fury of 
the plague, alike in the palace and the cot. 

Two queens,* one bishop,%nd great numbers of other distinguish- 
ed persons, fell a sacrifice to it, and more than 500 a day died in 
the Hotel-Dieu, under the faithful care of the sisters of charity, 
whose disinterested courage, in this age of horror, displayed the 

^ Barnes, loc. cit. ^ Ibid. 

3 Spangenberg. fol. 339. a. Grawsam Sterben vieler faulen Troppfen. Many lazy 
monks died a cruel death. 

* Vitoduran, loc. cit. ^ Becker, loc. cit. 

^ Hainr. Rebdorf. p. 630. "> Guillelm. de Nang. loc. cit. 

8 Johanna, queen of Navarre, daughter of Louis X., and Johaji^ia of Burgundy, wife 
of King Philip de Valois. 

^ Fulco de Chanac. „ 


most beautiful traits of liuman virtue. For although they lost 
their lives, evidently from contagion, and their numbers were 
several times renewed, there was still no want of fresh candidates, 
who, strangers to the unchristian fear of death, piously devoted 
themselves to their holy calling. 

The church-yards were soon unable to contain the dead,^ and 
many houses, left without inhabitants, fell to ruins. 

In Avignon, the pope found it necessary to consecrate the Rhone, 
that bodies might be thrown into the river without delay, as the 
church-yards would no longer hold them ; '\ so likewise, in all 
populous cities, extraordinary measures were adopted, in order 
speedily to dispose of the dead. In Vienna, where for some time 
1200 inhabitants died daily,^ the interment of corpses in the 
church-yards and within the churches was forthwith prohibited ; 
and the dead were then arranged in layers, by thousands, in six 
large pits outside the city,^ as had already been done in Cairo and 
Paris. Yet, still many were secretly buried ; for at all times the 
people are attached to the consecrated cemeteries of their dead, 
and will not renounce the customary mode of interment. 

In many places, it was rumoured that plague patients were 
buried alive,^ as may sometimes happen through senseless alarm 
and indecent haste ; and thus the horror of the distressed people 
was everywhere increased. In Erfurt, after the church-yards were 
filled, 12,000 corpses were thrown into eleven great pits ; and the 
like might, more or less exactly, be stated with respect to all the 
larger cities.^ Funeral ceremonies, the last consolation of the 
survivors, were everywhere impracticable. 

In all Germany, according to a probable calculation, there 
seem to have died only 1,244,434' inhabitants; this country, 

1 Mich. Felihien, Histoire de la rille de Paris, Liv. XII. Vol. II. p. 601. Paris. 1725. 
fol. Comp. Guillelm. de Xangis, loc. cit. and Daniel Histoire de France, Tom. II. p. 
48i. Amsterd. 1720. -tto. 

- Torfreus, loc. cit. 

* According to another account, 960. Chronic. Salisburg, in Fez. loc. cit. T. I. p. 412, 

* According to an anonjTnous Chronicler, each of these pits is said to have contained 
40,000 ; this, however, vre are to understand as only in round numbers. Anonvm. 
Leobiens, in Fez. p. 970. According to this writer, above seventy persons died in 
some houses, and many were entirely deserted, and at St. Stephen's alone, fiftv-four 
ecclesiastics were cut off. 

« Anger, de Biferris in Miiratori. Vol. III. P. II. p. 5.56. The same is said of Pa- 
derborn, by Gobeliti Ferson, in Henr. Meibom. Per. Germanic. Script. T. I. p. 286. 
Helmstadt, 1688. fol. 

6 Spangenberg. loc. cit. chap. 287. fol. 337. b. 

' Barnes, 435. 


however, was more spared than others ; Italy, on the contrary', 
was most severely visited. It is said to have lost half its inhabit- 
ants ; * and this account is rendered credible from the immense 
losses of individual cities and provinces : for in Sardinia and Cor- 
sica, according to the account of the distinguished Florentine, 
John Yillani, who was himself carried off by the Black Plague,- 
scarcely a third part of the population remained alive ; and it is 
related of the Venetians, that they engaged ships at a high rate to 
retreat to the islands ; so that after the plague had carried off 
three fourths of her inhabitants, that proud city was left forlorn 
and desolate.^ In Padua, after the cessation of the plague, two 
thirds of the inhabitants were wanting ; and in Florence it was 
prohibited to publish the numbers of the dead, and to toll the bells 
at their funerals, in order that the living might not abandon them- 
selves to despair.^ 

We have more exact accounts of England ; most of the great 
cities suffered incredible losses ; above all, Yarmouth, in which, 
7052 died : Bristol, Oxford, Norwich, Leicester, York, and Lon- 
don, w'here, in one burial-ground alone, there were interred up- 
wards of 50,000 corpses, arranged in layers, in lai'ge pits.^ It is 
said, that in the whole coxmtry, scarcely a tenth part remained 
alive ; ^ but this estimate is evidently too high. Smaller losses 
were sufficient to cause those convulsions, whose consequences were 
felt for some centuries, in a false impulse given to civil life, and 
whose indirect influence, unknown to the English, has, perhaps, 
extended even to modern times. 

Morals were deteriorated everywhere, and the service of God 
was, in a great measure, laid aside ; for, in many places, the 
churches were deserted, being bereft of their priests. The instruc- 
tion of the people was impeded ; ^ covetousness became general ; 
and when tranquillity was restored, the great increase of lawyers 
was astonishing, to whom the endless disputes regarding inherit- 
ances offered a rich harvest. The want of priests too, through- 

1 Trlthem. Annal. Hirsaug. loc. cit. 2 Lqc. cit. L. XII. c. 99. p. 977. 

^ Chronic. Claustro-Neoburg. in Fez. Vol. I. p. 490. Comp. Barnes, p. 435. Ray- 
nald Histor. ecclesiastic, loc. cit. According to this account, a runaway Venetian is 
said to have brought the plague to Padua. 

* Giov. Villani, L. XII. c' 83. p. 964. 

5 Barnes, p. 436. " Wood, loc. cit. 

■J Wood says, that before the plague, there were 13,000 students at Oxford; a num- 
ber which may, in some degree, enable us to form an estimate of the state of education 
in England at that time, if we consider that the universities were, in the middle ages, 
frequented by younger students, who in modern times do not quit school till their 18th 


out the country, operated very detrimentally upon the people, 
(the lower classes being most exposed to the ravages of the plague, 
whilst the houses of the nobility were, in proportion, much more 
spared,) and it was no compensation that whole bands of ignorant 
laymen, who had lost their wives during the pestilence, crowded 
into the monastic orders, that they might participate in the re- 
spectability of the priesthood, and in the rich heritages which fell 
into the church from all quarters. The sittings of Parliament, 
of the King's Bench, and of most of the other courts, were sus- 
pended as long as the malady raged. The laws of peace availed 
not during the dominion of death. Pope Clement took advantage 
of this state of disorder to adjust the bloody quarrel between Ed- 
ward III. and Philip VI. ; yet he only succeeded during the period 
that the plague commanded peace. Philip's death (1350) annul- 
led all treaties ; and it is related, that Edward, with other troops 
indeed, but with the same leaders and knights, again took the field. 
Ireland was much less heavily visited than England. The disease 
seems to have scarcely reached the mountainous districts of that 
kingdom ; and Scotland too would, perhaps, have remained free, 
had not the Scots availed themselves of the discomfiture of the 
English, to make an irruption into their territory, which terminat- 
ed in the destruction of their army, by the plague and by the sword, 
and the extension of the pestilence, through those who escaped, 
over the whole country. 

At the commencement, there was in England a super-abundance 
of all the necessaries of life ; but the plague, which seemed then 
to be the sole disease, was soon accompanied by a fatal murrain 
among the cattle. Wandering about without herdsmen, they fell 
by thousands ; and, as has likewise been observed in Africa, the 
birds and beasts of prey are said not to have touched them. Of 
what nature this murrain may have been, can no more be determin- 
ed, than whether it originated from communication with the plague 
patients, or from other causes ; but thus much is certain, that it 
did not break out until after the commencement of the Black 
Death. In consequence of this murrain, and the impossibility of 
removing the corn from the fields, there was everywhere a 'great 
rise in the price of food, which to many was inexplicable, because 
the harvest had been plentiful ; by others it was attributed to the 
wicked designs of the labourers and dealers ; but it really had its 
foundation in the actual deficiency arising from circumstances by 
which individual classes at all times endeavour to profit. For a 
whole j^ear, until it terminated in August, 1349, the Black Plague 


prevailed in this beautiful island, and everywhere poisoned the 
springs of comfort and prosperity.' 

In other countries, it generally lasted only half a year, but re- 
turned frequently in individual places ; on which account, some, 
without sufficient proof, assigned to it a period of seven years.^ 

Spain was uninterruptedly ravaged by the Black Plague till 
after the year 1350, to which the frequent internal feuds and the 
wars with the Moors not a little contributed. Alphonso XL, 
whose passion for war carried him too far, died of it at the siege 
of Gibraltar, on the 26th of March, 1350. He was the only king 
in Europe who fell a sacrifice to it ; but even before this period, 
innumerable families had been thrown into affliction.^ The mor- 
tality seems otherwise to have been smaller in Spain than in Italy, 
and about as considerable as in France. 

The whole period during which the Black Plague raged with 
destructive violence in Europe, was, with the exception of Russia, 
from the year 1347 to 1350. The plagues, which in the sequel 
often returned until the year 1383,^ we do not consider as belong- 
ing to " the Great Mortality." They were rather common pes- 
tilences, without inflammation of the lungs, such as in former times, 
and in the following centuries, were excited by the matter of con- 
tagion everywhere existing, and which, on every favourable oc- 
casion, gained ground anew, as is usually the case with this 
frightful disease. 

The concourse of large bodies of people was especially danger- 
ous ; and thus, the premature celebration of the Jubilee, to which 
Clement VI. cited the faithful to Rome, (1350,) during the great 
epidemic, caused a new eruption of the plague, from which it is 
said that scarcely one in a hundred of the pilgrims escaped.^ 

Italy was, in consequence, depopulated anew ; and those who 
returned spread poison and corruption of morals in all direc- 
tions.^ It is, therefore, the less apparent, how that pope, who 
was in general so wise and considerate, and who knew how to 
pursue the path of reason and humanity, under the most difficult 

1 Barnes and Wood, loc. cit. 2 Gobelin. Person, in Meibom. loc. cit. 

3 Juan de Mariana. Historia General de Espafia, illustrated by Don Jose Sabau y 
Blanco. Tom. IX. Madrid, 1819. 8vo. Libro XVI. p. 225. Don Diego Ortiz de 
Zliniga, Annales ecclesiasticos y seculares de Sevilla. Madrid, 1795. 4to. T. II. p. 121. 
Don Juan de Ferreras, Historia de Espafia. Madrid, 1721. T. VII. p. 353. 

* Gobelin. Person, loc. cit. Comp. Chalin, p. 53. 

* Guillelm, de Nangis, loc. cit. 

8 Spangenberg. fol. 337. b. Limburg. Chronic, p. 20. " Und die auch von Kora 
kamen, warden eines Theils boser als sie vor gewesen waren." 


circumstances, should have been led to adopt a measure so inju- 
rious ; since he himself was so convinced of the salutary effect of 
seclusion, that during the plague in Avignon he kept up constant 
fires, and suffered no one to approach him ; ^ and, in other respects, 
gave such orders as averted, or alleviated, much miser3^ 

The changes which occurred about this period in the north of 
Europe are sufficiently memorable to claim a few moments' atten- 
tion. In Sweden two princes died — Haken and Knut, half- 
brothers of King Magnus ; and in Westgothland alone, 466 
priests." The inhabitants of Iceland and Greenland found in the 
coldness of their inhospitable climate no protection against the 
southern enemy who had penetrated to them from happier countries. 
The plague caused great havoc among them. Nature made no 
allowance for their constant warfare Avith the elements, and the 
parsimony with which she had meted out to them the enjoyments 
of life.^ In Denmark and Norway, however, people were so oc- 
cupied with their own misery, that the accustomed voyages to 
Greenland ceased. Towering icebergs formed at the same time 
on the coast of East Greenland, in consequence of the general 
concussion of the earth's organism ; and no mortal, from that time 
forward, has ever seen that shore or its inhabitants/ 

It has been observed above, that in Russia the Black Plague 
did not break out until 1351, after it had already passed through 
the south and north of Europe. In this country also, the mor- 
tality was extraordinarily great ; and the same scenes of affliction 
and despair were exhibited, as had occurred in those nations 
which had already passed the ordeal. The same mode of burial — 
the same horrible certainty of death — the same torpor and de- 
pression of spirits. The wealthy abandoned their treasures, and 
gave their villages and estates to the churches and monasteries ; 
this being, according to the notions of the age, the surest way of 
securing the favour of Heaven and the forgiveness of past sins. 
In Russia, too, the voice of nature was silenced by fear and horror. 
In the hour of danger, fathers and mothers deserted their children, 
and children their parents.'' 

^ Guillelm. de Nangis, loc. cit. and many others. 

* Daluis Svea Rikes Historie, Vol. II. c. 12. p. 496. 

* Saa6i/e. Tagcbuch in Gronland. Einleit. XVIII. — Torfcei Histor. Norveg. Tom. 
IV. L. IX. c. viii. p. 478-79. F. G. Alansa, De epidemiis maxime raemorabilibus quai 
in Dania Grassatse sunt, et de Medicina3 statu. Partic. I. Ha\Ti. 1831. 8vo. p. 12. 

* Torfcei Groenlandia antiqua, s. veteris Groenlandia) descriptio. Havnire, 1715. 8vo. 
p. 2Z.—Po7itan. Rer. daniear. Histor. Amstelod. 1631. fol. L. VII. p. 476. 

* Richter, loc. cit. 


Of all the estimates of the number of lives lost in Europe, the 
most probable is, that altogether a fourth part of the inhabitants 
were carried off. Now, if Europe at present contain 210,000,000 
inhabitants, the population, not to take a higher estimate, which 
might easily be justified, amounted to at least 105,000,000 in the 
16th century. 

It may, therefore, be assumed, without exaggeration, that Eu- 
rope lost during the Black Death 25,000,000 of inhabitants. 

That her nations could so quickly overcome such a fearful con- 
cussion in their external circumstances, and, in general, without 
retrograding more than they actually did, could so develop their 
energies in the following century, is a most convincing proof of 
the indestructibility of human society as a whole. To assume, 
however, that it did not suffer any essential change internall}^, be- 
cause in appearance everything remained as before, is inconsistent 
with a just view of cause and effect. Many historians seem to 
have adopted such an opinion ; accustomed, as usual, to judge of 
the moral condition of the people solely according to the vicissi- 
tudes of earthly power, the events of battles, and the influence of 
religion, but to pass over with indifference the great phenomena 
of nature, which modify, not only the surface of the earth, but 
also the human mind. Hence, most of them have touched but 
superficially on the "great mortality" of the 14th century. We 
for our parts are convinced, that in the history of the world, the 
Black Death is one of the most important events which have pre- 
pared the way for the present state of Europe. 

He who studies the human mind with attention, and forms a 
deliberate judgment on the intellectual powers which set people 
and states in motion, may, perhaps, find some proofs of this asser- 
tion in the following observations : — at that time, the advance- 
ment of the hierarchy was, in most countries, extraordinary ; for 
the church acquired treasures and large properties in land, even 
to a greater extent than after the crusades ; but experience has 
demonstrated, that such a state of things is ruinous to the people, 
and causes them to retrograde, as was evinced on this occasion. 

After the cessation of the Black Plague, a greater fecundity in 
women was everywhere remarkable — a grand phenomenon, which, 
from its occurrence after every destructive pestilence, proves to 
conviction, if any occurrence can do so, the prevalence of a higher 
power in the direction of general organic life. Marriages were, 
almost without exception, prolific ; and double and treble births 
were more frequent than at other times ; under which head, we 


should remember the strange remark, that after the " great mor- 
tality " the children were said to have got fewer teeth than be- 
fore ; at which contemporaries were mightily shocked, and even 
later writers have felt surprise. 

If we examine the grounds of this oft-repeated assertion, we 
shall find that they were astonished to see children cut twenty, or 
at most, twenty-two teeth, under the supposition that a greater 
number had formerly fallen to their share.^ Some writers of au- 
thority, as, for example, the physician Savonarola,- at Ferrara, 
who probably looked for twenty-eight teeth in children, published 
their opinions on this subject. Others copied from them, without 
seeing for themselves, as often happens in other matters which 
are equall}'" evident ; and thus the world believed in the miracle of 
an imperfection in the human body which had been caused by the 
Black Plague. 

The people gradually consoled themselves after the sufferings 
which they had undergone ; the dead were lamented and for- 
gotten ; and in the stirring vicissitudes of existence, the world 
belonged to the living.^ 



The mental shock sustained by all nations during the prevalence 
of the Black Plague is without parallel and beyond description. 
In the eyes of the timorous, danger was the certain harbinger of 
death ; many fell victims to fear, on the first appearance of the 
distemper," and the most stout-hearted lost their confidence. Thus, 
after reliance on the future had died away, the spiritual union 
which binds man to his family and his fellow-creatures was gradu- 

' We shall take this view of the subject from Guillelm. de Xa7igis and Barnes, if Tve 
read them icith attention. Compare Olof Dalin, loc. cit. 

2 Practica de »gritudinibus a capite usque ad pedes. Papiae, l-iSG. fol. Tract VI. 

c. vii. 

' "Darnach, da das Stcrhen, die Geisclfarth, RiJmerfarth, Judeuschlacht, als vor- 
geschrieben stehet, ein End hatte, da hub die Welt wieder an zu leben und frohlich zu 
seyn, und machten die Manner neue Klcidung." Limburger Chronik. p. 26. After 
this, when, as was stated before, the Mortality, the Processions of the Flagellants, the 
Expeditions to Rome, and the Massacre of the Jews, were at an end, the world began 
to revive and be joyful, and the people put on new clothing. 

* Chalin, loc. cit. p. 98. Detmar's Liibcck Chronicle, V. I. p. 40L 


ally dissolved. The pious closed their accounts with the world, — 
eternity presented itself to their view, — their only remaining desire 
was for a participation in the consolations of religion, because to 
them death was disarmed of its sting. 

Repentance seized the transgressor, admonishing him to conse- 
crate his remaining hours to the exercise of Christian virtues. All 
minds were directed to the contemplation of futurity ; and children, 
who manifest the more elevated feelings of the soul without alloy, 
were frequently seen, while labouring under the plague, breathing 
out their spirit with prayer and songs of thanksgiving.' 

An awful sense of contrition seized Christians of every commu- 
nion ; they resolved to forsake their vices, to make restitution for 
past offences, before they were summoned hence, to seek reconci- 
liation with their Maker, and to avert, by self-chastisement, the 
punishment due to their former sins. Human nature would be ex- 
alted, could the countless noble actions, which, in times of most im- 
minent danger, were performed in secret, be recorded for the in- 
struction of future generations. Thej^, however, have no influence 
on the course of worldly events. They are known only to silent 
eye-witnesses, and soon fall into oblivion. But hypocrisy, illusion, 
and bigotry, stalk abroad undaunted ; they desecrate what is no- 
ble, they pervert what is divine, to the unholy purposes of selfish- 
ness ; which hurries along every good feeling in the false excite- 
ment of the age. Thus it was in the years of this plague. In the 
14th century, the monastic system was still in its full vigour, the 
power of the ecclesiastical orders and brotherhoods was revered by 
the people, and the hierarchy was still formidable to the temporal 
power. It was, therefore, in the natural constitution of society 
that bigoted zeal, which in such times makes a show of public acts 
of penance, should avail itself of the semblance of religion. But this 
took place in such a manner, that unbridled, self-willed penitence, 
degenerated into lukewarmness, renounced obedience to the hier- 
archy, and prepared a fearful opposition to the church, paralysed 
as it was by antiquated forms. 

' Chronic. Ditmari, Episcop. Merscpurg, Francof. 1580, fol. p. 358. — '■^ Sjm^igenberg , 
p. 338. The lamentation was piteous ; and the only remaining solace, was the prevalent 
anxiety, inspired by the danger, to prepare for a glorious departure ; no other hope re- 
mained — death appeared inevitable. Many were hence induced to search into their own 
hearts, to turn to God, and to abandon their wicked courses : parents warned their child- 
ren, and instructed them how to pray, and to submit to the ways of Providence : neigh- 
bours mutually admonished each other ; none could reckon on a single hour's respite. 
Many persons, and even young children, were seen bidding farewell to the world ; some 
with prayer, others with praises on their lips." 


"While all countries were filled with laraentutions and woe, there 
first arose in Hungary/ and afterwards in Germany, the Brother- 
hood of the Flagellants, called also the Brethren of the Cross, or 
Cross-bearers, who took upon themselves the repentance of the 
people, for the sins they had committed, and offered prayers and 
supplications for the averting of this plague. This Order consisted 
chiefly of persons of the lower class, who were either actuated by 
sincere contrition, or who joyfully availed themselves of this pretext 
for idleness, and were hurried along with the tide of distracting 
frenzy. But as these brotherhoods gained in repute, and were wel- 
comed by the people with veneration and enthusiasm, many nobles 
and ecclesiastics ranged themselves under their standard; and 
their bands were not unfrequently augmented by children, honour- 
able women, and nuns; so powerfully were minds of the most oppo- 
site temperaments enslaved by this infatuation.^ They marched 
through the cities, in well-organized processions, with leaders and 
singers ; their heads covered as far as the eyes ; their look fixed 
on the ground, accompanied by every token of the deepest contri- 
tion and mourning. They were robed in sombre garments, with 
red crosses on the breast, back, and cap, and bore triple scourges, 
tied in three or four knots, in which points of iron were fixed.' 
Tapers and magnificent banners of velvet and cloth of gold, were 
carried before them ; wherever they made their appearance, they 
were welcomed by the ringing of the bells ; and the people flocked 
from all quarters, to listen to their hymns and to witness their 
penance, with devotion and tears. 

In the year 1349, two hundred Flagellants first entered Stras- 
burg, where they were received with great joy, and hospitably 
lodged by the citizens. Above a thousand joined the brotherhood, 
which now assumed the appearance of a wandering tribe, and se- 
parated into two bodies, for the purpose of journeying to the north 

' Torfai Hist. rer. Norvegic. L. IX. c. \\\\. p. 478. (Havu. 1711, fol.) Die Cronica 
van der hilUger Stat vaii Coellen, off dat tyztboich, Coellen, 1499, fol. p. 263. " /« dem 
vurss jair erhoiff sich eyn alzo wunderlich nuive Geselschaft in Unrjarieti," &c. The 
Chronicle of the holy city of Cologne, 1499. In this same year, a very remarkable so- 
ciety was formed in Hungary. 

' Albert. Argentinens. Chronic, p. H9, in Chr. Urstishis. Germaniaj historicorum 
illustrium Tomus nnus. Francof. 158.5, fol. — Guilleltn. de Na7ig. loc. cit.— Comp. also 
the Saxon Chronicle, by Matthcus Dressere7i, Physician and Professor at Leipsig, Wit- 
tenberg, 1596, fol. p. 340 ; the above-named Limburg Chronicle, and the Germaniaj 
Chronicon, on the origin, name, commerce, &c., of all the Teutonic nations of Germany : 
by Seb. Francken, of Word. Tiibingcn, 1534, fol. p 201. 

•* Ditmar, loc. cit. 


and to the south. For more than half a year, new parties arrived 
weekly; and, on each arrival, adults and children left their fami- 
lies to accompany them ; till, at length, their sanctity was ques- 
tioned, and the doors of houses and churches were closed asrainst 
thera.^ At Spires, two hundred boys, of twelve years of age and 
under, constituted themselves into a Brotherhood of the Cross, in 
imitation of the children, who, about a hundred years before, had 
united, at the instigation of some fanatic monks, for the purpose 
of recovering the Holy Sepulchre. All the inhabitants of this town 
were carried away by the illusion; they conducted the strangers 
to their houses with songs of thanksgiving, to regale them for the 
night. The women embroidered banners for them, and all were 
anxious to augment their pomp: and at every succeeding pilgrim- 
age, their influence and reputation increased.^ 

It was not merely some individual parts of the country that fos- 
tered them; all Germany, Hungary, Poland, Bohemia, Silesia, 
and Flanders, did homage to the mania; and they at length be- 
came as formidable to the secular, as they were to the ecclesiasti- 
cal power. The influence of this fanaticism was great and threat- 
ening; resembling the excitement which called all the inhabitants 
of Europe into the deserts of Syria and Palestine, about two hun- 
dred and fifty years before. The appearance, in itself, was not 
novel. As far back as the 11th century, many believers, in Asia 
and Southern Europe, afflicted themselves with the punishment of 
flagellation. Dominicus Loricatus, a monk of St. Croce d'Avellano, 
is mentioned as the master and model of this species of mortifica- 
tion of the flesh ; which, according to the primitive notions of the 
Asiatic Anchorites, was deemed eminently Christian. The author 
of the solemn processions of the Flagellants, is said to have been 
St. Anthony; for even in his time (1231) this kind of penance 
was so much in vogue, that it is recorded as an eventful circum- 
stance in the history of the world. In 1260, the Flagellants ap- 
peared in Italy as Devoti. " "When the land was polluted by vices 
and crimes,^ an unexampled spirit of remorse suddenly seized the 
minds of the Italians. The fear of Christ fell upon all : noble and 
ignoble, old and young, and even children of five years of age, 
marched through the streets with no covering but a scarf round 

1 Konigshoven, Elsassische und Strassburgisclie Chronicke. loc. cit. p. 297. f. 

* Albert. Argentin. loc. cit. They never remained longer than one night at any- 

3 Words of MonacMis Paduanus, quoted in Forsfefnann's Treatise, which is the best 
upon this subject. — -See p. 24. 



the waist. They each carried a scourge of leathern thongs, which 
they applied to their limbs, amid sighs and tears, with such vio- 
lence, that the blood flowed from the wounds. Not only during the 
day, but even by night, and in the severest winter, they traversed 
the cities with burning torches and banners, in thousands and tens 
of thousands, headed by their priests, and prostrated themselves be- 
fore the altars. They proceeded in the same manner in the villages: 
and the woods and mountains resounded with the voices of those 
whose cries were raised to God. The melancholy chaunt of the pe- 
nitent alone was heard. Enemies were reconciled, men and wo- 
men vied with each other in splendid works of charity, as if they 
dreaded that Divine Omnipotence would pronounce on them the 
doom of annihilation." 

The pilgrimages of the Flagellants extended throughout all the 
provinces of Southern Germany, as far as Saxony, Bohemia, and 
Poland, and even further ; but at length, the priests resisted this 
dangerous fanaticism, without being able to extirpate the illusion, 
which was advantageous to the hierarchy, as long as it submitted 
to its sway. Regnier, a hermit of Perugia, is recorded as a 
fanatic preacher of penitence, with whom the extravagance origin- 
ated.^ In the year 1296, there was a great procession of the 
Flagellants in Strasburg f and in 1 334, fourteen years before the 
great mortality, the sermon of Yenturinus, a Dominican friar, of 
Bergamo, induced above 10,000 persons to undertake a new pil- 
grimage. They scourged themselves in the churches, and were 
entertained in the market-places, at the public expense. At 
Home, Venturinus was derided, and banished by the Pope to the 
mountains of Ricondona. He patiently endured all — went to the 
Holy Land, and died at Smyrna, 1346.' Hence we see that this 
fanaticism was a mania of the middle ages, which, in the year 
1349, on so fearful an occasion, and while still so fresh in remem- 
brance, needed no new founder ; of whom, indeed, all the records 
are silent. It probably arose in many places at the same time ; 

' Schnurrei; Chronicle of the Plagues, T. I. p. 291. 

' Kdniffshoven, loc. cit. 

' Forsternann, loc. cit. The Pilgrimages of the Flagellants of the year 1349, were 
not the last. Later in the 14th century this fanaticism still manifested itself several 
times, though never to so great an extent : in the 15th century, it was deemed necessary, 
in several parts of Germany, to extirpate them by fire and sword ; and in the year 
1710, processions of the Cross-bearers were still seen in Italy. How deeply this mania 
had taken root, is proved by the deposition ef a citizen of Nordhiiusen (1446) : that his 
M'ife, in the belief of performing a Christian act, wanted to scourge her children, as soon 
as they were baptized. 


for the terror of death, which pervaded all nations and suddenly 
set such powerful impulses in motion, might easily conjure up the 
fanaticism of exaggerated and overpowering repentance. 

The manner and proceedings of the Flagellants of the 13th and 
14th centuries exactly resemble each other. But if, during the 
Black Plague, simple credulity came to their aid, which seized, as 
a consolation, the grossest delusion of religious enthusiasm, yet it 
is evident that the leaders must have been intimately united, and 
have exercised the power of a secret association. Besides, the rude 
band was generally under the control of men of learning, some of 
whom, at least, certainly had other objects in view, independent 
of those which ostensibly appeared. Whoever was desirous of join- 
ing the brotherhood, was bound to remain in it thirty-four days, 
and to have four pence per day at his own disposal, so that he 
might not be burthensome to any one ; if married, he was obliged 
to have the sanction of his wife, and give the assurance that he 
was reconciled to all men. The Brothers of the Cross were not 
permitted to seek for free quarters, or even to enter a house with- 
out having been invited ; they were forbidden to converse with 
females ; and if they transgressed these rules, or acted without 
discretion, they were obliged to confess to the Superior, who sen- 
tenced them to several lashes of the scourge, by way of penance. 
Ecclesiastics had not, as such, any pre-eminence among them ; ac- 
cording to their original law, which, however, was often trans- 
gressed, they could not become Masters, or take part in the Secret 
Councils. Penance was performed twice every day; in the morn- 
ing and evening they went abroad in pairs, singing psalms, amid 
the ringing of the bells ; and when they arrived at the place of 
flagellation, they stripped the upper part of their bodies and put 
off their shoes, keeping on only a linen dress, reaching from the 
waist to the ancles. They then lay down in a large circle, in dif- 
ferent positions, according to the nature of their crime : the adul- 
terer with his face to the ground ; the perjurer on one side, hold- 
ing up three of his fingers, &c. ; and were then castigated, some 
more and some less, by the Master, who ordered them to rise in 
the words of a prescribed form.^ Upon this, they scourged them- 
selves, amid the singing of psalms and loud supplications for the 
averting of the plague, with genuflexions, and other ceremonies, 

1 Konigshoven, p. 298 : 

" Slant uf durch der reinen Martel ere ; 
Und hiite dich vor der Siinden mere.'^ 
3 * 


of which contemporary writers give various accounts ; and at the 
same time constantly boasted of their penance, that the blood of 
their wounds was mingled with that of the Saviour.^ One of them, 
in conclusion, stood up to read a letter, which it was pretended an 
angel had brought from heaven, to St. Peter's church, at Jerusa- 
lem, stating that Christ, who was sore displeased at the sins of 
man, had granted, at the intercession of the Holy Virgin and of 
the angels, that all who should wander about for thirty-four days 
and scourge themselves, should be partakers of the Divine grace.^ 
This scene caused as great a commotion among the believers as the 
finding of the holy spear once did at Antioch ; and if any among 
the clergy inquired who had sealed the letter? he was boldly 
answered, the same who had sealed the Gospel ! 

All this had so powerful an effect, that the church was in consi- 
derable danger; for the Flagellants gained more credit than the 
priests, from whom they so entirely withdrew themselves, that they 
even absolved each other. Besides, they everywhere took posses- 
sion of the churches, and their new songs, which went from mouth 
to mouth, operated strongly on the minds of the people. Great en- 
thusiasm and originally pious feelings, are clearly distinguishable 
in these hymns, and especially in the chief psalm of the Cross- 
bearers, which is still extant, and which was sung all over Ger- 
many, in different dialects, and is probably of a more ancient date.^ 
Degeneracy, however, soon crept in ; crimes were everywhere com- 
mitted ; and there was no energetic man capable of directing the 
individual excitement to purer objects, even had an effectual re- 
sistance to the tottering church been at that early period season- 
able, and had it been possible to restrain the fanaticism. The Fla- 
gellants sometimes undertook to make trial of their power of 
working miracles ; as in Strasburg, where they attempted, in their 
own circle, to resuscitate a dead child : they however failed, and 

' Giiill. de Nang. loc. cit. 2 Albert. Argentinens, loc. cit. 

3 We meet with fragments of different lengths in the Chronicles of the times, but the 
only entire MS. which we possess, is in the valuable Library of President von Meuse- 
bach. Massman has had this printed, accompanied by a translation, entitled Erlduterun- 
gen zum Wessobrunner Gebet des 8'^" Jahrhimderts. Nebst Zweien noch ungedruckten, 
Gedichten des Vierzehnten Jahrhcndeets, Berlin, 1824. " Elucidations of the 
Wessobrunn Prayer of the 8th century, together with two unpublished Hymns of the 
14th century." AYe shall subjoin it at the end of this Treatise, as a striking document 
of the age. The Limburg Chronicle asserts, indeed, that it was not composed till that 
time, although a part, if not the whole, of it, was sung in the procession of the Flagel- 
lants, in 1260. — See Incerti auctoris Chronicon rerum per Austrian! Yicinasque regiones 
gestaruminde ab anno 1025, usque ad annum 1282. Munich, 1827-8, p. 9. 


their unskilfulness did tliem much harm, though they succeeded 
here and there in maintaining some confidence in their holy call- 
ing, by pretending to have the power of casting out evil spirits.' 

The Brotherhood of the Cross announced that the pilgrimage of 
the Flagellants was to continue for a space of thirty-four years ; 
and many of the Masters had, doubtless, determined to form a 
lasting league against the church ; but they had gone too far. So 
early as the first year of their establishment, the general indigna- 
tion set bounds to their intrigues ; so that the strict measures 
adopted by the Emperor Charles IV,, and Pope Clemen t,^ who, 
throughout the whole of this fearful period, manifested prudence 
and noble-mindedness, and conducted himself in a manner every 
way worthy of his high station, were easily put into execution.^ 

The Sorbonne, at Paris, and the Emperor Charles, had already 
applied to the Holy See, for assistance against these formidable 
and heretical excesses, which had well nigh destroyed the influence 
of the clergy in every place ; when a hundred of the Brotherhood 
of the Cross arrived at Avignon from Basle, and desired admis- 
sion. The Pope, regardless of the intercession of several cardi- 
nals, interdicted their public penance, which he had not author- 
ized ; and, on pain of excommunication, prohibited throughout 
Christendom the continuance of these pilgrimages.* Philip VI., 
supported by the condemnator}^ judgment of the Sorbonne, forbad 
their reception in France.^ Manfred, King of Sicily, at the same 
time threatened them with punishment by death : and in the East, 
they were withstood by several bishops, among whom was Janus- 
sius, of Gnesen,^ and Preczlaw, of Breslaw, who condemned to 
death one of their Masters, formerly a deacon ; and, in conformity 
with the barbarity of the times, had him publicly burnt.'^ In 
Westphalia, where so shortly before they had venerated the 
Brothers of the Cross, they now persecuted them with relentless 
severity;^ and in the Mark, as well as in all the other countries 

1 Trithem. Aimal. Hirsaugiens, T. II. "p. 206. 

2 He issued a bull against them, Oct. 20, 1349. Raynald. Trithem. loc. cit. 

3 But as they at last ceased to excite astonishment, were no longer ■welcomed by the 
ringing of bells, and were not received with veneration, as before, they vanished as hu- 
man imaginations are wont to do. Saxon Chronicle, by Matt. Dresseren. Wittenberg, 
1596, fol. p. 340, 341. 

* Albert. Argenti7iens. loc. cit. ^ Guillelm. de Nangis. 
^ Ditmar. loc. cit. 

' Klose of Breslaw' s Documental History and Description, 8vo. Vol. II. p. 190. 
Breslaw, 1781, 

* Limburg Chronicle, p. 17. 


of Germany, they pursued them, as if they had been the authors 
of every misfortune.' 

The processions of the Brotherhood of the Cross undoubtedly 
promoted the sj)reading of the plague ; and it is evident, that the 
gloomy fanaticism which gave rise to them vs^ould infuse a new 
poison into the already desponding minds of the people. 

Still, however, all this was within the bounds of barbarous en- 
thusiasm ; but horrible were the persecutions of the Jews, which 
were committed in most countries, with even greater exasperation 
than in the 12th century, during the first Crusades. In every de- 
structive pestilence, the common people at first attribute the mor- 
tality to poison. No instruction avails ; the supposed testimony 
of their eyesight is to them a proof, and they authoritatively de- 
mand the victims of their rage. On whom then M'as it so likely to 
fall, as on the Jews, the usurers and the strangers who lived as 
enmity with the Christians ? They were everywhere suspected of 
having poisoned the wells or infected the air,^ They alone were 
considered as having brought this fearful mortality upon the 
Christians. •'' They were, in consequence, pursued with merciless 
cruelty ; and either indiscriminately given up to the fury of the 
populace, or sentenced by sanguinary tribunals, which, with all 
the forms of law, ordered them to be burnt alive. In times like 
these, much is indeed said of guilt and innocence ; but hatred and 
revenge bear down all discrimination, and the smallest probability 
magnifies suspicion into certainty. These bloody scenes, which 
disgraced Europe in the 14th century, are a counterpart to a si- 
milar mania of the age, which was manifested in the persecutions 
of witches and sorcerers ; and, like these, they prove, that enthu- 
siasm, associated with hatred, and leagued with the baser passions, 
may work more powerfully upon whole nations, than religion and 
legal order ; nay, that it even knows how to profit by the authority 
of both, in order the more surely to satiate with blood, the sword 
of long-suppressed revenge. 

The persecution of the Jews commenced in September and Oc- 
tober, 1348,* at Chillon, on the Lake of Geneva, where the first 

1 Kehrberg's Description of KiJnigsberg, /. e. Xcumark, 1724, 4to. p. 240. 

2 So says the Polish historian Blugoss, loc, cit., while most of his contemporaries 
mention only the poisoning of the wells. It is evident, that in the state of their feel- 
ings, it mattered little whether they added another still more formidable accusation. 

3 In those places where no Jews resided, as in Leipsig, Magdeburg, Brieg, Franken- 
stein, &c., the grave-diggers were accused of the crime. — Y. Mohsen's History of the 
Sciences in the March of Brandenburg, T. 11. p. 265. 

•* See the original proceedings, in the Appendix. 


criminal proceedings were instituted against them, after tliey had 
long before been accused by the people of poisoning the wells ; 
similar scenes followed in Bern and Freyburg, in January, 1349. 
Under the influence of excruciating suffering, the tortured Jews 
confessed themselves gviilty of the crime imputed to them ; and it 
being affirmed that poison had in fact been found in a well at 
Zoffingeu, this was deemed a sufficient proof to convince the world ; 
and the persecution of the abhorred culprits thus appeared justi- 
fiable. Now, though we can take as little exception at these pro- 
ceedings, as at the multifarious confessions of witches, because the 
interrogatories of the fanatical and sanguinary tribunals were so 
complicated, that by means of the rack, the required answer must 
inevitably be obtained ; and it is besides conformable to human 
nature, that crimes which are in everybody's mouth, may, in 
the end, be actually committed by some, either from wantonness, 
revenge, or desperate exasperation ; yet crimes and accusations 
are, under circumstances like these, merely the offspring of a re- 
vengeful, frenzied spirit in the people; and the accusers, accord- 
ing to the fundamental principles of moralit}^, which are the same 
in every age, are the more guilty transgressors. 

Already in the autumn of 1348, a dreadful panic, caused by this 
supposed empoisonment, seized all nations ; in Germany especiall}^, 
the springs and wells were built over, that nobody might drink 
of them, or employ their contents for culinary purposes ; and for 
a long time, the inhabitants of numerous towns and villages used 
only river and rain water.^ The city gates were also guarded with 
the greatest caution : only confidential persons were admitted; and 
if medicine, or any other article, which might be supposed to be 
poisonous, was found in the possession of a stranger, — and it was 
natural that some should have these things by them for their pri- 
vate use, — they were forced to swallow a portion of it.^ By this 
trying state of privation, distrust, and suspicion, the hatred against 
the supposed poisoners became greatly increased, and often broke 
out in popular commotions, which only served still further to in- 
furiate the wildest passions. The noble and the mean fearlessly 
bound themselves by an oath to extirpate the Jews by fire and 
sword, and to snatch them from their protectors, of whom the 

' Hermanni Gygantis Flores temporum, sive Chronicon Universale — Ed. MeuscJien. 
Lugdun. Bat. 1743. 4to. p. 139. Hermann, a Franciscan monk of Franconia, who wrote 
in the year 1349, was an eye-witness of the most revolting scenes of vengeance, through- 
out all Germany. 

^ Guid. Cauliac, loc. cit. 


number was so small, that throughout all Germany but few 
places can be mentioned where these unfortunate people were not 
regarded as outlaws and martyred and burnt. ^ Solemn summonses 
Avere issued from Bern to the towns of Basle, Freyburg in the Breis- 
gau, and Strasburg, to pursue the Jews as poisoners. The Burgo- 
masters and Senators, indeed, opposed this requisition ; but in 
Basle the populace obliged them to bind themselves by an oath to 
burn the Jews, and to forbid persons of that community from en- 
tering their city, for the space of two hundred years. Upon this, 
all the Jews in Basle, whose number could not have been inconsi- 
derable, were inclosed in a wooden building, constructed for the 
purpose, and burnt, together with it, upon the mere outcry of the 
people, without sentence or trial, which indeed would have availed 
them nothing. Soon after, the same thing took place at Freyburg. 
A regular Diet was held at Bennefeld, in Alsace, where the bi- 
shops, lords, and barons, as also deputies of the counties and towns, 
consulted how they should proceed with regard to the Jews ; and 
when the deputies of Strasburg — not indeed the bishop of this town, 
who proved himself a violent fanatic — spoke in favour of the perse- 
cuted, as nothing criminal was substantiated against them ; a great 
outcry was raised, and it was vehemently asked, why, if so, they 
had covered their wells and removed their buckets ? A sanguinary 
decree was resolved upon, of which the populace, who obe3^ed the 
call of the nobles and superior clergy, became but the too willing 
executioners.^ Wherever the Jews were not burnt, they were at 
least banished ; and so being compelled to wander about, they fell 
into the hands of the countr}^ people, who without humanity, and 
regardless of all laws, persecuted them with fire and sword. At 
Spires the Jews, driven to despair, assembled in their own habita- 
tions, which they set on fire, and thus consumed themselves with 
their families. The few that remained were forced to submit to 
baptism ; while the dead bodies of the murdered, which lay about 
the streets, were put into empty wine casks, and rolled into the 
Rhine, lest they should infect the air. The mob was forbidden to 
enter the ruins of the habitations that were burnt in the Jewish 
quarter ; for the senate itself caused search to be made for the 
treasure, which is said to have been very considerable. At Stras- 
burg, two thousand Jews were burnt alive in their own burial 
ground, where a large scafibld had been erected : a few who pro- 

' Ilertnann. loc. cit. 
" Albert. Argentin. — Konigshoven, loc. cit. 


raised to embrace Christianity, were spared, and their children 
taken from the pile. The youth and beauty of several females also 
excited some commiseration ; and they were snatched from death 
against their will : many, however, who forcibly made their escape 
from the flames, were murdered in the streets. 

The senate ordered all pledges and bonds to be returned to the 
debtors, and divided the money among the work-people.^ Many, 
however, refused to accept the base price of blood, and, indignant 
at the scenes of blood-thirsty avarice, which made the infuriated 
multitude forget ^ that the plague was raging around them, pre- 
sented it to monasteries, in conformity with the advice of their 
confessors. In all the countries on the Rhine, these cruelties con- 
tinued to be perpetrated during the succeeding months ; and after 
quiet was in some degree restored, the people thought to render 
an acceptable service to God, by taking the bricks of the destroyed 
dwellings, and the tombstones of the Jews, to repair churches and 
to erect belfries.^ 

In Mayence alone, 12,000 Jews are said to have been put to a 
cruel death. The Flagellants entered that place in August ; the 
Jews, on this occasion, fell out with the Christians, and killed se- 
veral ; but when they saw their inability to withstand the increas- 
ing superiority of their enemies, and that nothing could save 
them from destruction, they consumed themselves and their fami- 
lies, by setting fire to their dwellings. Thus also, in other places, 
the entry of the Flagellants gave rise to scenes of slaughter ; and as 
thirst for blood was everywhere combined with an unbridled spirit 
of proselytism, a fanatic zeal arose among the Jews to perish as 
martyrs to their ancient religion. And how was it possible that 
they could from the heart embrace Christianity, when its precepts 
were never more outrageously violated ? At Eslingen, the whole 
Jewish community burned themselves in their synagogue;"* and 
mothers were often seen throwing their children on the pile, to 
prevent their being baptized, and then precipitating themselves 
into the flames,^ In short, whatever deeds fanaticism, revenge, 

' Dies was ouch die Vergift, die die Juden d'dttete. " This was also the poison that 
killed the Jews," observes Konigshoveii, which he illustrates by saying, that their in- 
crease in Germany was very great, and their mode of gaining a livelihood, which, how- 
ever, was the only resource left them, had engendered ill-will against them in all 

2 Many wealthy Jews, for example, were, on their way to the stake, stripped of their 
garments, for the sake of the gold coin that was sewed in them. — Albert. Argeiitine^is. 

2 Vide preceding note. * ^pangenberg, loc. cit. 

* Guillelm, de Nangis. — Dlugoss, loc. cit. 


avarice, and desperation, in fearful combination, could instigate 
mankind to perform, — and where in such a case is the limit ? 
— were executed in the year 1349, throughout Germany, Italy, 
and France, with impunity, and in the eyes of all the world. It 
seemed as if the plague gave rise to scandalous acts and frantic tu- 
mults, not to mourning and grief : and the greater part of those who, 
by their education and rank, were called upon to raise the voice of 
reason, themselves led on the savage mob to murder and to plun- 
der. Almost all the Jews who saved their lives by baptism, were 
afterwards burnt at different times ; for they continued to be ac- 
cused of poisoning the water and the air. Christians also, whom 
philanthropy or gain had induced to offer them protection, were 
put on the rack and executed with them.^ Many Jews who had 
embraced Christianity, repented of their apostasy, — and, return- 
ing to their former faith, sealed it with their death. ^ 

The humanity and prudence of Clement YI. must, on this 
occasion, also be mentioned to his honour ; but even the highest 
ecclesiastical power was insufficient to restrain the unbridled fury 
of the people. He not only protected the Jews at Avignon, as 
far as lay in his power, but also issued two bulls, in which he 
declared them innocent ; and admonished all Christians, though 
without success, to cease from such groundless persecutions.^ The 
Emperor Charles lY. was also favourable to them, and sought to 
avert their destruction, wherever he could ; but he dared not draw 
the sword of justice, and even found himself obliged to yield to 
the selfishness of the Bohemian nobles, who were unwilling to 
forego so favourable an opportunity of releasing themselves from 
their Jewish creditors, under favour of an imperial mandate.* 
Duke Albert of Austria burned and pillaged those of his cities 
which had persecuted the Jews, — a vain and inhuman proceeding, 
which, moreover, is not exempt from the suspicion of covetousness ; 
yet he was unable, in his own fortress of Kyberg, to protect some 
hundreds of Jews, who had been received there, from being bar- 
barously burnt by the inhabitants.^ Several other princes and 
counts, among whom was Ruprecht von der Pfalz, took the Jews 
under their protection, on the payment of large sums : in conse- 
quence of which they were called "Jew-masters," and were in dan- 

1 Albert. Argent ineiis. 

- Spangenberg describes a similar scene which took place at Kostnitz. 

' Gtdllelm. de Na7ig. — liaynald. 

* Histor. Landgrav. TImring. in Pistor. loc. cit. Vol. I. p. 948. 

' Anonym. Leobiens, in Pez. loc. cit. 


ger of being attacked by the populance and by their powerful 
neighbours.^ These persecuted and ill-used people, except indeed 
where humane individuals took compassion on them at their own 
peril, or when they could command riches to purchase protection, had 
no place of refuge left but the distant country of Lithuania, where 
Boleslav Y., Duke of Poland (1227—1279), had before granted 
them liberty of conscience ; and King Casimir the Great (1333 — 
1370), yielding to the entreaties of Esther, a favourite Jewess, re- 
ceived them, and granted them further protection : ^ on which 
account, that country is still inhabited by a great number of Jews, 
who by their secluded habits have, more than any people in 
Europe, retained the manners of the middle ages. 

But to return to the fearful accusations against the Jews ; it 
was reported in all Europe, that they were in connexion with 
secret superiors in Toledo, to whose decrees they were subject, and 
from whom they had received commands respecting the coining of 
base money, poisoning, the murder of Christian children, &c. f 
that they received the poison by sea from remote parts, and also 
prepared it themselves from spiders, owls, and other venomous 
animals ; but, in order that their secret might not be discovered, 
that it was known only to their Rabbis and rich men.'* Appar- 
ently there were but few who did not consider this extravagant 
accusation well founded ; indeed, in many writings of the 14th 
century, we find great acrimony with regard to the suspected 
poison-mixers, which plainly demonstrates the prejudice exist- 
ing against them. Unhappily, after the confessions of the first 
victims in Switzerland, the rack extorted similar ones in various 
places. Some even acknowledged having received poisonous pow- 
der in bags, and injunctions from Toledo, by secret messengers. 

' Spangenberg. In the county of Mark, the Jews were no better off than in the 
rest of Germany. Margrave Ltidvng, the Roman, even countenanced their persecu- 
tions, of which Kehrberg, loc. cit. 241, gives the following official account: Coram 
cunctis, Christi fidelibus prajsentia percepturis, ego Johannes dictus de Wedel Advocatus, 
inclyti Principis Domini, Ludovici, Marchionis, publico proliteor et recognosco, quod 
nomine Domini mei civitatem Konigsberg visitavi et intravi, et ex parte Domini 
Marchionis Consulibus ejusdeni civitatis in adjutorium mihi assumtis, Judccos inibi mo- 
rantes igne cremavi, bonaque omnia eorimdem Judasorum ex parte Domini mei totaliter 
usurpavi et assumsi. In cujus testimonium prsesentibus memn sigillum appcndi. Da- 
tura A.D. 1351. in Yigilia S. Matthsei Apostoli. 

2 Basnage, Histoire des Juifs. A la Haye, 1716. 8vo.T. IX. Part. 2. Liv. IX. Chap. 
23. §. 12. 24. pp. 664. 679. This valuable work gives an interesting account of the 
state of the Jews of the middle ages. Compare J. M. Jost's History of the Israelites 
from the time of the Maccabees to the present day. T. VII. Berlin, 1827- 8vo. pp. 8. 262. 

' Albert. Argentmens. ■* Hermann. Gygas. loc. cit. 


Bags of this description were also often found in wells, though it 
was not unfrequently discovered that the Christians themselves 
had thrown them in ; probably to give occasion to murder and 
pillage ; similar instances of which may be found in the persecu- 
tions of the witches.^ 

This picture needs no additions. A lively image of the Black 
Plague, and of the moral evil which followed in its train, will 
vividly represent itself to him who is acquainted with nature and 
the constitution of society. Almost the only credible accounts of 
the manner of living, and of the ruin which occurred in private 
life, during this pestilence, are from Italy ; and these may enable 
us to form a just estimate of the general state of families in 
Europe, taking into consideration what is peculiar in the manners 
of each country. 

" "When the evil had become universal " (speaking of Florence), 
" the hearts of all the inhabitants were closed to feelings of hu- 
manity. They fled from the sick and all that belonged to them, 
hoping by these means to save themselves. Others shut them- 
selves up in their houses, with their wives, their children and 
households, living on the most costly food, but carefully avoiding 
all excess. None were allowed access to them; no intelligence of 
death or sickness was permitted to reach their ears ; and they 
spent their time in singing and music, and other pastimes. Others, 
on the contrary, considered eating and drinking to excess, amuse- 
ments of all descriptions, the indulgence of every gratification, 
and an indifference to what was passing around them, as the best 
medicine, and acted accordingl3\ They wandered day and night 
from one tavern to another, and feasted without moderation or 
bounds. In this way they endeavoured to avoid all contact with 
the sick, and abandoned their houses and property to chance, like 
men whose death-knell had already tolled. 

1 On this subject see Koniffshoveyi, who has preserved some very valuable original 
proceedings. The most important are, the criminal examinations of ten Jews, at Chil- 
lon, on the Lake of Geneva, held in September and October, 1348. — Y. Appendix- 
They produced the most strange confessions, and sanctioned, by the false name of justice, 
the blood-thirsty fanaticism which lighted the funeral piles. Copies of these proceed- 
ings were sent to Bern and Strasburg, where they gave rise to the first persecutions 
against the Jews. — V. also the original document of the offensive and defensive 
Alliance between Berthold von Gotz, Bishop of Strasburg, and many powerful lords and 
nobles, in favour of the city of Strasburg, against Charles IV. The latter saw himself 
compelled, in consequence, to grant to that city an amnesty for the Jewish persecutions, 
which in our days would be deemed disgraceful to an imperial crown. Kot to mention 
many other documents, which no less clearly show the spirit of the 14th century, p. 
1021. f. 


Amid this general lamentation and woe, the influence and au- 
thority of every law, human and divine, vanished. Most of those 
who were in office, had been carried off by the plague, or lay 
sick, or had lost so many members of their families, that they 
were unable to attend to their duties ; so that thenceforth every 
one acted as he thought proper. Others, in their mode of living, 
chose a middle course. They ate and drank what they pleased, 
and walked abroad, carrying odoriferous flowers, herbs or spices, 
which they smelt to from time to time, in order to invigorate the 
brain, and to avert the baneful influence of the air, infected by the 
sick, and by the innumerable corpses of those who had died of the 
plague. Others carried their precaution still further, and thought 
the surest way to escape death was by flight. They therefore left 
the city ; women as well as men abandoning their dwellings, and 
their relations, and retiring into the country. But of these, also, 
many were carried off, most of them alone and deserted by all the 
world, themselves having previously set the example. Thus it 
was, that one citizen fled from another — a neighbour from his 
neighbours — a relation from his relations ; and in the end, so 
completely had terror extinguished every kindlier feeling, that 
the brother forsook the brother — the sister the sister — the wife 
her husband ; and at last, even the parent his own ofispring, and 
abandoned them, unvisited and unsoothed, to their fate. Those, 
therefore, that stood in need of assistance fell a prey to greedy 
attendants ; who, for an exorbitant recompense, merely handed 
the sick their food and medicine, remained with them in their last 
moments, and then not unfrequently became themselves victims 
to their avarice, and lived not to enjoy their extorted gain. Pro- 
priety and decorum were extinguished among the helpless sick. 
Females of rank seemed to forget their natural bashfulness, and 
committed the care of their persons, indiscriminately, to men and 
women of the lowest order. No longer were women, relatives or 
friends, found in the houses of mourning, to share the grief of the 
survivors — no longer was the corpse accompanied to the grave by 
neighbours and a numerous train of priests, carrying wax tapers 
and singing psalms, nor was it borne along by other citizens of 
equal rank. Many breathed their last without a friend to soothe 
their dying pillow ; and few indeed were they who departed amid 
the lamentations and tears of their friends and kindred. Instead 
of sorrow and mourning, appeared indifference, frivolity, and 
mirth ; this being considered, especially by the females, as con- 
ducive to health. Seldom was the body followed by even ten or 


twelve attendants ; and instead of the usual bearers and sextons, 
mercenaries of the lowest of the populace undertook the office 
for the sake of gain ; and accompanied by only a few priests, and 
often without a single taper, it was borne to the very nearest 
church, and lowered into the first grave that was not already too 
full to receive it. Among the middling classes, and especially 
among the poor, the misery was still greater. Poverty or negli- 
gence induced most of these to remain in their dwellings, or in the 
immediate neighbourhood ; and thus they fell by thousands ; and 
many ended their lives in the streets, by day and by night. 
The stench of putrefying corpses was often the first indication to 
their neighbours that more deaths had occurred. The survivors, 
to preserve themselves from infection, generally had the bodies 
taken out of the houses, and laid before the doors ; where the early 
morn found them in heaps, exposed to the afi'righted gaze of the 
passing stranger. It was no longer possible to have a bier for 
every corpse, — three or four were genei^ally laid together — hus- 
band and wife, father and mother, with two or three children, 
were frequently borne to the grave on the same bier ; and it often 
happened that two priests would accompany a coffin, bearing the 
cross before it, and be joined on the way by several other funerals ; 
so that instead of one, there were five or six bodies for interment." 
Thus far Boccacio. On the conduct of the priests, another 
contemporary observes :^ "In large and small towns, they had 
withdrawn themselves through fear, leaving the performance of 
ecclesiastical duties to the few who were found courageous and 
faithful enough to undertake them." But we ought not on that 
account to throw more blame on them than on others ; for we find 
proofs of the same timidity and heartlessness in every class. 
During the prevalence of the Black Plague, the charitable orders 
conducted themselves admirably, and did as much good as can be 
done by individual bodies, in times of great misery and destruc- 
tion ; when compassion, courage, and nobler feelings, are found 
but in the few, Avhile cowardice, selfishness, and ill-will, with the 
baser passions in their train, assert the supremacy. In place of 
virtue which had been driven from the earth, wickedness every- 
where reared her rebellious standard, and succeeding generations 
were consigned to the dominion of her baleful tyranny. 

1 Guillelm. de Nangis, p. 110, 




If we now turn to the medical talent which encountered the 
" Oreat Mortality," the middle ages must stand excused, since 
even the moderns are of opinion that the art of medicine is not 
able to cope with the Oriental plague, and can afford deliverance 
from it only under particularly favourable circumstances.^ We 
must bear in mind also, that human science and art appear parti- 
cularly weak in great pestilences, because they have to contend with 
the powers of nature, of which they have no knowledge ; and which, 
if they had been, or could be, comprehended in their collective 
effects, would remain uncontrollable by them, principally on 
account of the disordered condition of human society. Moreover, 
every new plague has its peculiarities, which are the less easily 
discovered on the first view, because, during its ravages, fear and 
consternation humble the proud spirit. 

The physicians of the 14th centur}^, during the Black Death, 
did what human intellect could do in the actual condition of the 
healing art ; and their knowledge of the disease was by no means 
despicable. They, like the rest of mankind, have indulged in 
prejudices, and defended them, perhaps, with too much obstinacy : 
some of these, however, were founded on the mode of thinking of 
the age, and passed current in those days, as established truths : 
others continue to exist to the present hour. 

Their successors in the 19th century ought not therefore to 
vaunt too highly the pre-eminence of their knowledge, for they 
too will be subjected to the severe judgment of posterity — they 
too will, with reason, be accused of human weakness and want 
of foresight. 

The medical faculty of Paris, the most celebrated of the 14th 
century, were commissioned to deliver their opinion on the causes 
of the Black Plague, and to furnish some appropriate regulations 
with regard to living, during its prevalence. This document is 
sufiiciently remarkable to find a place here. 

" We, the Members of the College of Physicians, of Paris, 
have, after mature consideration and consultation on the present 
mortality, collected the advice of our old masters in the art, and 

' " Curationem omnem respuit pcstis confirmata."— C//aZ»?, p. 33. 


intend to make known the causes of this pestilence, more clearly 
than could be done according to the rules and principles of astro- 
logy and natural science ; we, therefore, declare as follows : — 

" It is known that in India, and the vicinity of the Great Sea, 
the constellations which combated the rays of the sun, and the 
warmth of the heavenly fire, exerted their power especially against 
that sea, and struggled violently with its waters. (Hence, vapours 
often originate which envelope the sun, and convert his light into 
darkness.) These vapours alternately rose and fell for twenty- 
eight days ; but at last, sun and fire acted so powerfully upon the 
sea, that they attracted a great portion of it to themselves, and the 
waters of the ocean arose in the form of vapour ; thereby the 
waters were, in some parts, so corrupted, that the fish which they 
contained, died. These corrupted waters, however, the heat of 
the sun could not consume, neither could other wholesome water, 
hail or snow, and dew, originate therefrom. On the contrary, 
this vapour spread itself through the air in many places on the 
earth, and enveloped them in fog. 

"Such was the case all over Arabia, in a part of India; in 
Crete ; in the plains and valleys of Macedonia ; in Hungary, 
Albania, and Sicily. Should the same thing occur in Sardinia, 
not a man will be left alive ; and the like will continue, so long as 
the sun remains in the sign of Leo, on all the islands and adjoin- 
ing countries to which this corrupted sea-wind extends, or has 
already extended from India. If the inhabitants of those parts 
do not employ and adhere to the following, or similar, means and 
precepts, we announce to them inevitable death — except the grace 
of Christ preserve their lives. 

"We are of opinion, that the constellations, with the aid of 
Nature, strive, by virtue of their divine might, to protect and 
heal the human race ; and to this end, in union with the rays of 
the sun, acting through the power of fire, endeavour to break 
through the mist. Accordingly, within the next ten days, and 
until the 17th of the ensuing month of July, this mist will be 
converted into a stinking deleterious rain, whereby the air will be 
much purified. Now, as soon as this rain shall announce itself, by 
thunder or hail, every one of you should protect himself from the 
air ; and, as well before as after the rain, kindle a large fire of 
vine- wood, green laurel, or other green wood ; wormwood and 
chamomile should also be burnt in great quantity in the market- 
places, in other densely inhabited localities, and in the houses. 
Until the earth is again completely dry, and for three days after- 


wards, no one ought to go abroad in the fields. Durmg this time 
the diet should be simple, and people should be cautious in avoid- 
ing exposure in the cool of the evening, at night, and in the 
morning. Poultry and water-fowl, young pork, old beef, and fat 
meat in general, should not be eaten ; but on the contrary, meat 
of a proper age, of a warm and dr}^ but on no account of a heat- 
ing and exciting nature. Broth should be taken, seasoned with 
ground pepper, ginger, and cloves, especially by those who are 
accustomed to live temperately, and are yet choice in their diet. 
Sleep in the day-time is detrimental ; it should be taken at night 
until sunrise, or somewhat longer. At breakfast, one should 
drink little ; supper should be taken an hour before sunset, when 
more may be drunk than in the morning. Clear light wine, 
mixed with a fifth or sixth part of water, should be used as a 
beverage. Dried or fresh fruits, with wine, are not injurious ; 
but highly so without it. Beet-root and other vegetables, whether 
eaten pickled or fresh, are hurtful ; on the contrary, spicy pot- 
herbs, as sage or rosemary, are wholesome. Cold, moist, watery 
food is in general prejudicial. "Going out at night, and even until 
three o'clock in the morning, is dangerous, on account of the dew. 
Only small river fish should be used. Too much exercise is hurt- 
ful. The body should be kept warmer than usual, and thus 
protected from moisture and cold. Rain-water must not be em- 
ployed in cooking, and every one should guard against exposure 
to wet weather. If it rain, a little fine treacle should be taken 
after dinner. Fat people should not sit in the sunshine. Good 
clear wine should be selected and drunk often, but in small quan- 
tities, by day. Olive oil as an article of food, is fatal. Equall}'- 
injurious are fasting and excessive abstemiousness, anxiety of mind, 
anger, and immoderate drinking. Young people, in autumn espe- 
cially, must abstain from all these things, if they do not wish 
to run a risk of dying of dysentery. In order to keep the body 
properly open, an enema, or some other simple means, should be 
employed, when necessary. Bathing is injurious. Men must 
preserve chastity as they value their lives. Every one should 
impress this on his recollection, but especially those who reside on 
the coast, or upon an island into which the noxious wind has 
penetrated." ^ 

On what occasion these strange precepts were delivered can no 

' Jacob. Francischini de Amhrosiis. In the Appendix to the Istorie Pistolesi, in 
Muratori, Tom. XI. p. 528. 


longer bo ascertained, even if it were an object to know it. It 
must be acknowledged, however, that they do not redound to the 
credit either of the faculty of Paris, or of the 14th century in 
general. This famous faculty found themselves under the pain- 
ful necessity of being wise at command, and of firing a point 
blank shot of erudition at an enemy who enveloped himself in a 
dark mist, of the nature of which they had no conception. In con- 
cealing their ignorance by authoritative assertions, they sufiered 
themselves, therefore, to be misled ; and while endeavouring to 
appear to the woi'ld with eclat, only betrayed to the intelligent 
their lamentable weakness. Now some might suppose, that in the 
condition of the sciences of the 14th century, no intelligent phy- 
sicians existed ; but this is altogether at variance with the laws of 
human advancement, and is contradicted by history. The real 
knowledge of an age is shown only in the archives of its literature. 
Here alone the genius of truth speaks audibly : — here alone men 
of talent deposit the results of their experience and reflection, 
without vanity or a selfish object. There is no ground for believ- 
ing that, in the 14th century, men of this kind were publicly 
questioned regarding their views ; and it is, therefore, the more 
necessary that impartial history should take up their cause and do 
justice to their merits. 

The first notice on this subject is due to a very celebrated 
teacher in. Perugia, Gentilis of Foligno, who, on the 18th of June, 
1348, fell a sacrifice to the plague, in the faithful discharge of his 
duty.' Attached to Arabian doctrines, and to the universally 
respected Galen, he, in common with all his contemporaries, be- 
lieved in a putrid corruption of the blood in the lungs and in the 
heart, which was occasioned by the pestilential atmosphere, and 
was forthwith communicated to the whole body. He thought, 
therefore, that everything depended upon a sufficient purification 
of the air, by means of large blazing fires of odoriferous wood, in 
the vicinity of the healthy, as well as of the sick, and also upon 
an appropriate manner of living ; so that the putridity might not 
overpower the diseased. In conformity with notions derived from 
the ancients, he depended upon bleeding and purging, at the com- 
mencement of the attack, for the purpose of purification ; ordered 
the healthy to wash themselves frequently with vinegar or wine, 
to sprinkle their dwellings with vinegar, and to smell often to 

' Gentilis de Fulrjinco Coiiiilia. De Pestc Cons. I. II. fol. 76, 77- Vcnct. 151 1. 


camphor, or other volatile substances. Hereupon he gave, after 
the Arabian fashion, detailed rules, with an abundance of different 
medicines, of whose healing powers wonderful things were be- 
lieved. He laid little stress upon super-lunar influences, so far 
as respected the malady itself ; on which account, he did not enter 
into the great controversies of the astrologers, but always kept in 
view, as an object of medical attention, the corruption of the blood 
in the lungs and heart. He believed in a progressive infection 
from country to country, according to the notions of the present 
day ; and the contagious power of the disease, even in the vicinity 
of those affected by plague, was, in his opinion, beyond all doubt.^ 
On this point, intelligent contemporaries were all agreed ; and in 
truth, it required no great genius to be convinced of so palpable a 
fact. Besides, correct notions of contagion have descended from 
remote antiquity, and were maintained unchanged in the 14th 
century.^ So far back as the age of Plato, a knowledge of the 
contagious power of malignant inflammations of the eye, of which 
also no phj^sician of the middle ages entertained a doubt,^ was 
general among the people ;"* yet, in modern times, surgeons have 
filled volumes with partial controversies on this subject. The 
whole language of antiquity has adapted itself to the notions of 
the people, respecting the contagion of pestilential diseases ; and 
their terms were, beyond comparison, more expressive than those 
in use among the moderns.^ 

Arrangements for the protection of the health}^ against conta- 
gious diseases, the necessity of which is shown from these notions, 
were regarded by the ancients as useful ; and by many, whose 
circumstances permitted it, were carried into effect in their houses. 
Even a total separation of the sick from the healthy, that indis- 
pensable means of protection against infection by contact, was 
proposed by physicians of the 2nd century after Christ, in order 
to check the spreading of leprosy. But it was decidedly opposed, 
because, as it was alleged, the healing art ought not to be guilty of 
such harshness.^ This mildness of the ancients, in whose manner 

1 — " vcnenosa putredo circa partes cordis et pulmonis de quibus cxcuute venenoso 
vapore, periculura est in vicinitatibus." Cons. I. fol. 76, a. 

2 Dr. Maclean's notion tbat tlic doctrine of contagion was first promulgated in the 
year 1547, by Pope Paul III., &c., thus falls to the groimd, together with all the argu- 
ments founded on it. — See Maclean on Epid. and Pestilent. Diseases, 8vo, 1817, Pt. II. 
Book II. ch. 3, 4. — Transl. note, 

•^ Lippitudo contagione spcctantium oculos afficit. — Chalin de Vinario, p. 149. 

* See the Author's Geschichte der Heilkunde, Vol. II. P. III. 

* Compare Marx, Origines coutagii. Caroliruh. et Bad. 1824. 8. 

^ Cccl. Aurelian. Chron. L. IV. c. 1. p. 497. Ed. Amman. " Sod hi tegrotantcm 

4 * 


of thinking inhumanity was so often and so undisguisedly con- 
spicuous, might excite surprise, if it were anything more than ap- 
parent. The true ground of the neglect of public protection 
against pestilential diseases, lay in the general notion and consti- 
tution of human society, — it lay in the disregard of human life, of 
which the great nations of antiquity have given proofs in every 
page of their history. Let it not be supposed that they wanted 
knowledge respecting the propagation of contagious diseases. On 
the contrary, they were as well informed on this subject as the 
moderns ; but this was shown where individual property, not where 
human life, on the grand scale, was to be protected. Hence the 
ancients made a general practice of arresting the progress of mur- 
rains among cattle, by a separation of the diseased from the healthy. 
Their herds alone enjoyed that protection which they held it im- 
practicable to extend to human society, because they had no wish 
to do so.^ That the governments in the 14th century were not yet 
so far advanced, as to put into practice general regulations for 
checking the plague, needs no especial proof. Physicians could, 
therefore, only advise public purifications of the air by means of 
large fires, as had often been practised in ancient times ; and they 
were obliged to leave it to individual families, either to seek safety 
in fligbt, or to shut themselves up in their dwellings,^ a method 
which answers in common plagues, but which here afforded no 
complete security, because such was the fury of the disease when 
it was at its height, that the atmosphere of whole cities was pene- 
trated by the infection. 

Of the astral influence which was considered to have originated 
the " Great MortaHty,''^ physicians and learned men were as com- 
pletely convinced as of the fact of its reality. A grand conjunction 
of the three superior planets, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars, in the 
sign of Aquarius, which took place, according to Guy de Chauliac, 
on the 24th of March, 1345, was generally received as its princi- 
pal cause. In fixing the day, this physician, who was deeply 
versed in astrology, did not agree with others ; whereupon there 

destituendum magis imperant, qiiam curaiidum, quod a se alienum liumanitas approbat 

' Geschichte der Heilkunde, Vol. II. p. 248. 

2 Chalin assures us expressly, that many nunneries, by closing their gates, remained 
free from the contagion. It is worthy of note, and quite in conformity with the pre- 
vailing notions, that the continuance in a thick, moist atmosphere, was generally es- 
teemed more advantageous and conservative, on account of its being more impenetrable 
to the astral influence, inasmuch as the inferior cause kept off the superior. — Chalin, 
p. 48. 


arose various disputations, of weight in that age, but of none in 
ours ; people, however, agreed in this — that conjunctions of the 
planets infallibly prognosticated great events ; great revolutions 
of kingdoms, new prophets, destructive plagues, and other occur- 
rences which bring distress and horror on mankind. No medical 
author of the 14th and 15th centuries omits an opportunity of re- 
presenting them as among the general prognostics of great 
plagues ; nor can we, for our parts, regard the astrology of the 
middle ages as a mere offspring of superstition. It has not onlj^, 
in common with all ideas which inspire and guide mankind, a high 
historical importance, entirely independent of its error or truth — 
for the influence of both is equally powerful — but there are also 
contained in it, as in alchymy, grand thoughts of antiquity, of 
which modern natural philosophy is so little ashamed that she 
claims them as her property. Foremost among these, is the idea 
of the general life which diffuses itself throughout the whole uni- 
verse, expressed by the greatest Greek sages, and transmitted to 
the middle ages, through the new Platonic natural philosophy. 
To this impression of an universal organism, the assumption of a 
reciprocal influence of terrestrial bodies could not be foreign,^ nor 
did this cease to correspond with a higher view of nature, until 
astrologers overstepped the limits of human knowledge with 
frivolous and mystical calculations. 

Guy de Chauliac considers the influence of the conjunction, 
which was held to be all-potent, as the chief general cause of the 
Black Plague ; and the diseased state of bodies, the corruption of 
the fluids, debility, obstruction, and so forth, as the especial sub- 
ordinate causes.^ By these, according to his opinion, the quality 
of the air, and of the other elements, was so altered, that they 
set poisonous fluids in motion towards the inward parts of the 
body, in the same manner as the magnet attracts iron ; whence 
there arose in the commencement fever and the spitting of blood ; 
afterwards, however, a deposition in the form of glandular swell- 
ings and inflammatory boils. Herein the notion of an epidemic 
constitution was set forth clearly, and conformably to the spirit of 
the age. Of contagion, Guy de Chauliac was completely con- 
vinced. He sought to protect himself against it by the usual 

1 This Avas called Affiuxiis, or Forma specifica, and was compared to the eifect of a 
magnet on iron, and of amber on chaff. — Clialin de Vinario, p. 23. 

2 Causa universalis agens — causa particularis patiens. To this correspond, in Cha- 
liiij the expressions Causa superior et inferior. 


means ; ' and it was probably he who advised Pope Clement VI. to 
shut himself up while the plague lasted. The preservation of this 
pope's life, however, was most beneficial to the city of Avignon, 
for he loaded the poor with judicious acts of kindness, took care to 
have proper attendants provided, and paid physicians himself to 
afford assistance wherever human aid could avail — an advantage 
which, perhaps, no other city enjoyed." Nor was the treatment 
of plague-patients in Avignon by any means objectionable ; for, 
after the usual depictions by bleeding and aperients, where circum- 
stances required them, they endeavoured to bring the buboes to 
suppuration ; they made incisions into the inflammatory boils, or 
burned them with a red-hot iron, a practice which at all times 
proves salutary, and in the Black Plague saved many lives. In 
this city, the Jews, who lived in a state of the greatest filth, were 
most severely visited, as also the Spaniards, whom Chalin accuses 
of great intemperance.^ 

Still more distinct notions on the causes of the plague were 
stated to his contemporaries in the 14th century, by Galeazzo di 
Santa Sofia, a learned man, a native of Padua, who likewise 
treated plague-patients at Vienna,"* though in what year is unde- 
termined. He distinguishes carefully pestilence from epidemij and 
cndemij. The common notion of the two first accords exactly 
with that of an epidemic constitution, for both consist, according 
to him, in an unknown change or corruption of the air ; with this 
difference, that pestilence calls forth diseases of different kinds ; 
epidemy, on the contrar}^ always the same disease. As an example 
of an epidemy, he adduces a cough (influenza) which was observed 
in all climates at the same time, without perceptible cause ; but 
he recognised the approach of a pestilence, independently of un- 
usual natural phenomena, by the more frequent occurrence of 
various kinds of fever, to which the modern physicians would as- 
sign a nervous and putrid character. The endemy originates, ac- 
cording to him, only in local telluric changes — in deleterious in- 
fluences which develope themselves in the earth and in the water, 
without a corruption of the air. These notions were variously 

' Purging with aliietic pills ; bleeding ; purification of the air by moans of large fires ; 
the use of treacle ; frequent smelling to volatile substances, of which certain "poraa" 
were prepared ; the internal use of Armenian bole, — a plague-remedy derived from the 
Arabians, and, throughout the middle ages, much in vogue, and very improperly used ; 
and the employment of acescent food, in order to resist putridity. Guy de Chauliac ap- 
pears to have recommended flight to many. Loc. citat. p. 115. Compare Chalin, L. II., 
who gives most excellent precepts on this subject. 

2 Auger, de Biterris, loc. cit. 

3 L. I. c. 4. p. 3'J ^ Fol. 32. loc. cit. 


jumbled together in his time, like everything which human un- 
derstanding separates by too fine a line of limitation. The esti- 
mation of cosmical influences, however, in the epidemy and 
pestilence is well worthy of commendation ; and Santa Sofia, in 
this respect, not only agrees with the most intelligent persons of 
the 14th and 15th centuries, but he has also promulgated an 
opinion which must, even now, serve as a foundation for our 
scarcely commenced investigations into cosmical influences.' Pes- 
tilence and ejjidemy consist not in alterations of the four primary 
qualities,^ but in a corruption of the air, powerful, though quite 
immaterial, and not cognoscible by the senses : — (corruptio aeris 
non substantialis, sed qualitativa) in a disproportion of the im- 
ponderables in the atmosphere, as it would be expressed by the 
moderns.^ The causes of the pestilence and eplclemy are, first of 
all, astral influences, especially on occasion of planetary conjunc- 
tions ; then extensive putrefaction of animal and vegetable bodies, 
and terrestrial corruptions (corruptio in terra) ; to which also bad 
diet and want may contribute. Santa Sofia considers the putre- 
faction of locusts, that had perished in the sea and were again 
thrown up, combined with astral and terrestrial influences, as the 
cause of the pestilence in the eventful year of the " Great Mor- 

All the fevers which, were called forth by the pestilence, are, ac- 
cording to him, of the putrid kind ; for they originate principally 
from putridity of the heart's blood, which inevitably follows the 
inhalation of infected air.. The Oriental Plague is, sometimes, but 
by no means always, occasioned by pestilence (?), which imparts to 
it a character (qualitas occulta) hostile to human nature. It 
originates frequently from other causes, among which, this phy- 
sician was aware that contagion was to be reckoned ; and it de- 
serves to be remarked, that he held epidemic small-pox and measles 
to be infallible forerunners of the plague, as do the physicians and 
people of the East "* at the present day. 

^ Galeacii de Sancta Sophia, Liber de Febribus. Venet. 1514, fol. (Printed togetlier 
Avith Guillelmus Brixiensis, Marsilius de Sancta Sophia, Ricardics Parisiensis. fol. 
29. seq.) 

2 Warmth, cold, dryness, and moisture. 

3 The talented Chalin entertains the same conviction, " Obscurum interdum esse 
Titium aeris, sub pestis initia et menses primes, hoc est argumento : quod cum nee odore 
tetro gravis, nee turpi colore fcedatus fuerit, sed purus, tenuis, frigidus, qnalis 
in montosis et asperis locis esse solet, et tranquillus, vehementissima sit tamen pestilentia 
infestaquey etc. p. 28. The most recent observers of malaria have stated nothing more 
than this. 

* Compare Enr. di Wolmar, Abhandlung iiber die Pest. Berlin, 1827. 8vo. 


In the exposition of his therapeutical views of the plague, a 
clearness of intellect is again shown by Santa Sofia, which reflects 
credit on the age. It seemed to him to depend, 1st, on an evacua- 
tion of putrid matters, by purgatives and bleeding : yet he did not 
sanction the emplojnnent of these means indiscriminately, and 
without consideration ; least of all where the condition of the 
blood was healthy. He also declared himself decidedly against 
bleeding ad deliquium (venae sectio eradicativa). 2nd, Strength- 
ening of the heart and prevention of putrescence. 3rd, Appropri- 
ate regimen. 4th, Improvement of the air. 5th, Appropriate 
treatment of tumid glands and inflammatory boils, with emollient, 
or even stimulating poultices (mustard, lily-bulbs), as well as with 
red-hot gold and iron. Lastly, 6th, Attention to prominent 
symptoms. The stores of the Arabian pharmacy, which he 
brought into action to meet all these indications, were indeed very 
considerable ; it is to be observed, however, that, for the most part, 
gentle means were accumulated, which, in case of abuse, would do 
no harm ; for the character of the Arabian system of medicine, 
whose principles were everywhere followed at this time, was mild- 
ness and caution. On this account, too, we cannot believe that a 
very prolix treatise by Marsigli di Santa Sofia,^ a contemporary 
relative of Galeazzo, on the prevention and treatment of plague, 
can have caused much harm, although, perhaps, even in the 14th 
century, an agreeable latitude and confident assertions respecting 
things which no mortal has investigated, or which it is quite a 
matter of indifierence to distinguish, were considered as proofs of 
a valuable practical talent. 

The agreement of contemporary and later writers, shows that 
the published views of the most celebrated physicians of the 14th 
century, were those generally adopted. Among these, Chalin de 
Vinario is the most experienced. Though devoted to astrology, 
still more than his distinguished contemporary, he acknowledges 
the greater power of terrestrial influences, and expresses himself 
very sensibly on the indisputable doctrine of contagion, endeavour- 
ing thereby to apologize for many surgeons and physicians of his 
time, who neglected their duty.^ He asserted boldly, and with 

1 Tractatus de Febribus, fol. 48. 

2 De Peste Liber, pura latinitate donatus a Jacoho Dalcchampio. Lngdun. 1552. 
16. p. 40. 188. " Longe taraen plurimi congressu eorum qui fuerunt in locis pesti- 
lentibus periclitantur et gravissime, quoniam e causa duplici, nempe et aeris vitio, et 
eorum qui versantur nobiscum, vitio. Hoc itaque modo Jit, ut unius accessu in totam 
modo fainiliam, modo civitatem, modo villam, pestis invehalur." Compare p. 20, 
"SoLb privatorum redes pestem sentiunt, si adeatqui in pestilenti loco versatus est." — 


truth, " that all epidemic diseases might become contagious^ and all 
fevers epidemic,'" which, attentive observers of all subsequent ages 
have confirmed. 

He delivered his sentiments on blood-letting with sagacity, as 
an experienced physician ; yet he was unable, as may be imagin- 
ed, to moderate the desire for bleeding shown by the ignorant 
monks. He was averse to draw blood from the veins of patients 
imder fourteen years of age ; but counteracted inflammatory ex- 
citement in them by cupping ; and endeavoured to moderate the 
inflammation of the tumid glands by leeches.^ Most of those who 
were bled, died ; he therefore reserved this remedy for the pletho- 
ric ; especially for the papal courtiers, and the hj^pocritical priests, 
whom he saw gratifying their sensual desires, and imitating Epi- 
curus, whilst they pompously pretended to follow Christ.^ He 
recommended burning the boils with a red-hot iron, only in the 
plague without fever, which occurred in single cases; * and was al- 
ways ready to correct those over-hasty surgeons, who, with fire 
and violent remedies, did irremediable injury to their patients.^ 
Michael Savonarola, professor in Ferrara (1462), reasoning on the 
susceptibility of the human frame to the influence of pestilential 
infection, as the cause of such various modifications of disease, ex- 
presses himself as a modern physician would on this point; and an 
adoption of the principle of contagion, was the foundation of his 
definition of the plague.^ No less worthy of observation are the 
views of the celebrated Yalescus of Taranta, who, during the final 
visitation of the Black Death, in 1382, practised as a physician at 
Montpellier, and handed down to posterity what has been repeat- 

" Nobis proximi ipsi sumus, ncmoque est tanta occcecatus amentia, qui de sua salute 
potius quam aliorum sollicitus uon sit, masime in contagione tarn cita et rapida." 
Eather a loose principle, which might greatly encourage low sentiments, and much en- 
danger the honour of the medical profession, but which, in Chalin, who was aware of 
the impossibility of avoiding contagion in uncleanly dwellings, is so far excusable, that 
he did not apply it to himself. 

J Morbos omnes pestilentes esse contagiosos, audacter ego equidem pronuntio et as- 
severo. p. 149. 

2 Vide preceding note, pp. 162, 163. 

3 Ibid. p. 97, 166. " Qualis (vita) esse solet eorum, qui sacerdotiorum et cultus di- 
vini prsetextu, genio plus satis indulgent et obsequuntur, ac Christum speciosis titulis 
ementientes, Epicurum imitantur." Certainly a remarkable freedom of sentiment for 
the 14th century. 

* Ibid. p. 183. 151. 5 Ibid, p. 159. 189, 

6 Canonica de Febribus, ad Raynerium Siculum, 1487, s, 1. cap. 10, sine pag. 

"Febris pestilentialis est febris contagiosa ex ebullitione putrefactiva in altero quatuor 

humorum cordi propinquorum principaliter." 


ed in innumerable treatises on plague, which were written during 
the 15th and 16th centuries.' 

Of all these notions and views regarding the plague, whose de- 
velopment we have represented, there are two especially, which 
are prominent in historical importance : — 1st, The opinion of 
learned physicians, that the pestilence, or epidemic constitution, is 
ih.e jxnrnt of various kinds of disease; that the plague sometimes, 
indeed, but by no means always, originates from it ; that, to speak 
in the language of the moderns, the pestilence bears the same re- 
lation to contagion, that a predisposing cause does to an occasion- 
al cause : and 2ndly, the universal conviction of the contagious 
power of that disease. 

Contagion gradually attracted more notice : it was thought that 
in it, the most powerful occasional cause might be avoided ; the 
possibility of protecting whole cities by separation became gradu- 
ally more evident ; and so horrifying was the recollection of the 
eventful year of the " Great Mortality,''^ that before the close of 
the 14th century, ere the ill effects of the Black Plague had 
ceased, nations endeavoured to guard against the return of this 
enemy, by an earnest and effectual defence. 

The first regulation which was issued for this purpose, origin- 
ated with Viscount Bernabo, and is dated the ITth Jan. 1374. 
*' Every plague-patient was to be taken out of the city into the 
fields, there to die or to recover. Those who attended upon a 
plague-patient, were to remain apart for ten daj's, before they 
again associated with anybody. The priests were to examine 
the diseased, and point out to special commissioners the persons 
infected ; under punishment of the confiscation of their goods, and 
of being burned alive. Whoever imported the plague, the state 
condemned his goods to confiscation. Finally, none, except those 
who were appointed for that purpose, were to attend plague-pa- 
tients, under penalty of death and confiscation.^ 

These orders, in correspondence with the spirit of the 14th cen- 
tury, are sufficiently decided to indicate a recollection of the good 
effects of confinement, and of keeping at a distance those suspect- 
ed of having plague. It was said that Milan itself, by a rigorous 
barricado of three houses in which the plague had broken out, 
maintained itself free from the " Great Mortality,'"' for a consider- 

1 Valesci de Tharanta, Philonium. Lugduni, 1535. 8. L. yil. c. 18. fol. 401. b. scq. 
— Compare Astruc. Memoires pour servir a I'Histoire de la Faculte de Medecine de 
Montpellier. Paris, 176". 4. p. 208. 

- Clironieon Regiense, Muratori, Tom. Xyill. p. 82. 


able time ; ' and examples of the preservation of individual fami- 
lies, by means of a strict separation, were certainly very frequent. 
That these orders must have caused universal affliction from their 
uncommom severity, as we know to have been especially the case 
in the city of Eeggio, may be easily conceived ; but Bernabo did 
not suffer himself to be deterred from his purpose by fear — on the 
contrarj^, when the plague returned in the year 1383, he forbad 
the admission of people from infected places into his territories, on 
pain of death. ^ We have now, it is true, no account how far he 
succeeded, yet it is to be supposed that he arrested the disease, for 
it had long lost the property of the Black Death, to spread abroad 
in the air the contagious matter which proceeded from the lungs, 
charged with putridity, and to taint the atmosphere of whole cities 
by the vast numbers of the sick. Now that it had resumed its 
milder form, so that it infected only by contact, it admitted being 
confined within individual dwellings, as easily as in modern times. 

Bernabo's example was imitated ; nor was there any century 
more appropriate for recommending to governments strong regu- 
lations against the plague, than the 14th ; for when it broke out 
in Italy, in the year 1399, and still demanded new victims, it was 
for the 16th time ; without reckoning frequent visitations of 
measles and small-pox. In this same year. Viscount John, in 
milder terms than his predecessor, ordered that no stranger should 
be admitted from infected places, and that the city gates should 
be strictly guarded. Infected houses were to be ventilated for at 
least eight or ten days, and purified from noxious vapours by fires, 
and by fumigations with balsamic and aromatic substances. Straw, 
rags, and the like, were to be burned ; and the bedsteads which 
had been used, set out for four days in the rain or the sunshine, 
so that, by means of the one or the other, the morbific vapour 
might be destroyed. No one was to venture to make use of clothes 
or beds out of infected dwellings, unless they had been previously 
washed and dried either at the fire or in the sun. People were, 
likewise, to avoid, as long as possible, occupying houses which had 
been frequented by plague-patients.^ 

We cannot precisely perceive in these an advance towards gener- 

1 Ad): Chenot, Hinterlassene Abhandlungen iiber die arztlichen und politisclien An- 
stalten bei der Pestseiiche. "Wien, 1798, 8vo. p. 146. From this period it was common 
in the middle ages to barricade the doors and windows of honses infected with plague, 
and to suffer the inhabitants to perish without mercy. — S. Mohsen, loc. cit. 

2 Chrou. Eeg. loc. cit. 

3 Mnratori, Tom. XVI. p. 560.— Compare Chenot, loc. cit. p. 14:6. 


al regulations ; and perhaps people were convinced of the insur- 
mountable impediments which opposed the separation of open 
inland countries, where bodies of people connected together could 
not be brought, even by the most obdurate severity, to renounce 
the habit of a profitable intercourse. 

Doubtless it is nature which has done the most to banish the 
Oriental plague from western Europe, where the increasing cul- 
tivation of the earth, and the advancing order in civilized society, 
have prevented it from remaining domesticated ; which it most 
probably was in the more ancient times. 

In the 15th century, during which it broke out seventeen times 
in different places in Europe,^ it was of the more consequence to 
oppose a barrier to its entrance from Asia, Africa, and Greece 
(which had become Turkish) ; for it would have been difficult for 
it to maintain itself indigenously any longer. Among the south- 
ern commercial states, however, which were called on to make the 
greatest exertions to this end, it was principally Venice, formerly 
so severely attacked by the Black Plague, that put the necessary 
restraint upon the perilous profits of the merchant. Until towards 
the end of the 15th century, the very considerable intercourse 
with the East was free and unimpeded. Shij)S of commercial cities 
had often brought over the plague : nay, the former irruption of 
the *' Great Mortality " itself had been occasioned by navigators. 
For, as in the latter end of Autumn, 1347, four ships full of 
plague-patients returned from the Levant to Genoa, the disease 
spread itself there with astonishing rapidity. On this account, in 
the following year, the Genoese forbad the entrance of suspected 
ships into their port. These sailed to Pisa and other cities on the 
coast, where already nature had made such mighty preparations 
for the reception of the Black Plague, and what we have already 
described took place in consequence.'^ 

In the year 1485, when, among the cities of northern Italy, 
Milan especially felt the scourge of the plague, a special council of 
health, consisting of three nobles, was established at Venice, who 
probabl}^ tried everything in their power to prevent the entrance 
of this disease, and graduall}^ called into activity all those regula- 
tions which have served in later times as a pattern for the other 
southern states of Europe. Their endeavours were, however, not 
crowned with complete success ; on which account their powers 
were increased, in the j^ear 1504, by granting them the right of 

' Papon, loc. cit. • Chenot, p. 145. 


life and death over those who violated the regulations.' Bills of 
health were probably first introduced in the year 1527, during a 
fatal plague^ which visited Italy for five years (1525 — 30), and 
called forth redoubled caution. 

The first lazarettos were established upon islands at some dis- 
tance from the city, seemingly as early as the year 1485. Here all 
strangers coming from places where the existence of plague was 
suspected were detained. If it appeared in the city itself, the sick 
Avere despatched with their families to what was called the Old 
Lazaretto, were there furnished with provisions and medicines, 
and, when they were cured, were detained, together with all those 
who had had intercourse with them, still forty days longer in the 
New Lazaretto, situated on another island. All these regulations 
were every year improved, and their needful rigour was increased, 
so that from the year 1585 onwards, no appeal was allowed from 
the sentence of the Council of Health ; and the other commercial 
nations gradually came to the support of the Venetians, by adopt- 
ing corresponding regulations.^ Bills of healthy however, were 
not general until the year 1665.* 

The appointment of a forty days' detention, whence quarantines 
derive their name, was not dictated by caprice, but probably had a 
medical origin, which is derivable in part from the doctrine of 
critical days ; for the fortieth day, according to the most ancient 
notions, has been always regarded as the last of ardent diseases, 
and the limit of separation between these and those which are 
chronic. It was the custom to subject lying-in w^omen for forty 
days to a more exact superintendence. There was a good deal also 
said in medical works of forty day epochs in the formation of the 
foetus, not to mention that the alchymists expected more durable 
revolutions in forty days, which period they called the philosophi- 
cal month. 

This period being generally held to prevail in natural processes, 
it appeared reasonable to assume, and legally to establish it, as 
that required for the development of latent principles of contagion, 
since public regulations cannot dispense with decisions of this 
kind, even though they should not be wholly justified by the na- 
ture of the case. Great stress has likewise been laid on theologi- 

' Le Bret, Staatsgeschichte der Eepublik Yenedig. Riga, 1775. 4, Part II. Div. 
2. p. 752. 

2 Zagata, Cronica di Yerona, 1744. 4, III. p. 93. 

3 Le Bret, loc. cit. Comp. Hamburger Reraarquen of the year 1700, pp. 282 and 305. 
* Gottinger gelehrte Anzeigen, 1772, p. 22. 


cal and legal grounds, whicli were ccrtainl}^ of greater weight in 
the fifteenth century than in modern times.' 

' On this matter, however, we cannot decide, since our only ob- 
ject here is to point out the origin of a political means of protec- 
tion against a disease, which has been the greatest impediment to 
civilization within the memory of man ; a means, that, like Jenner's 
vaccine, after the small-pox had ravaged Europe for twelve hun- 
dred years, has diminished the check which mortality puts on the 
progress of civilization, and thus given to the life and manners of 
the nations of this part of the world a new direction, the result of 
whicli we cannot foretell. 

1 The forty days' duration of the Flood, the forty days' sojourn of Moses on Mount 
Sinai, our Saviour's fast for the same length of time in the wilderness ; lastly, what is 
called the Saxon term (Sachsische Frist), which lasts for forty days, &c. Compare 
G. W. Wedel, Centuria Exercitationum Medico-philologicarum. Dc Quadragesima 
Medica. Jena;, 1701. 4. Dec. IV. p. 16. 





SvE siner sele wille pleghen 
De sal gelden uncle Veder geuen 
So wert siner sele raed 
Des help ims leue herre goed 
5 Nu tredet here we botsen wille 
Vie wi io de hetsen helle 
Lucifer is en bose geselle 
Sveu her hauet 
Mit jjeke he en lauet 

10 Datz yle wi ef wir hauen sin 
Des help iins maria koninghin 
Das wir dines kindes hulde win 

Jesus crist de wart ke vanghen 
An en cruce wart he ge hanghen 

15 Dat cruce wart des blodes rod 

"Wer klaghen sin marter unde sin dod 
Sunder war mide wilt tu mi lonen 
Dre negele unde en dornet crone 
Das cruce vrone en sper en stich 

20 Sunder datz leyd ich dor dich 
"Was wltu nu liden dor mich 
So rope wir herre mit luden done 
TJnsen denst den nem to lone 
Be hode uns ror der helle nod 

25 Des bidde wi dich dor dinen dod 
Dor god vor gete wi unse blot 
Dat is uns tho den suden guot 

Maria muoter koninginghe 
Dor dines leuen kindes miune 

30 Al unse nod si dir ghe klaghet 
Des help uns moter maghet reyne. 
De erde beuet och kleuen de steyne 
Lebe hertze du salt weyne 


%\t: Jiiuient Sijng 0f lire |lapllanis. 



Whoe'er to save his soul is fain, 

Must pay and render back again. 

His safety so shall he consult : 

Help us, good Lord, to this result. 
5 Te that repent your crimes, draw nigh. 

From the burning hell we fly. 

From Satan's wicked company. 

Whom he leads 

With pitch he feeds. 
10 If we be wise we this shall flee. 

Maria ! Queen ! we trust in thee, 

To move thy Son to sympathy. 

Jesus Christ was captive led, 

And to the cross was riveted. 
15 The cross was reddened with his gore 

And we his martyrdom deplore. 

" Sinner, canst thou to me atone. 

Three pointed nails, a thorny crown, 

The holy cross, a spear, a Avound, 
20 These are the cruel pangs I found. 

What wilt thou, sinner, bear for me ? " 

Lord, with loud voice we ansAver thee. 

Accept our service in return. 

And save us lest in hell we burn. 
25 We, through thy death, to thee have sued. 

For Grod in heaven we shed our blood : 

This for our sins will work to good. 

Blessed Maria ! Mother ! Queen ! 

Through thy loved Son's redeeming mean 
30 Be all our wants to thee pourtrayed. 

Aid us, Mother ! spotless maid ! 

Trembles the earth, the rocks are rent,' 

Fond heart of mine, thou must relent. 

1 We hence perceive with what feelings subterraneous thunders were regarded by 
the people. 5 


Wir wenen treue mit den oghen 

35 Uncle hebben des so guden louen 
Mit unseu siuneu iinde mit liertzen 
Dor uns leyd crist vil manighen smertz;eu 

Nu slaed w sere 
Dor cristns ere. 

40 Dor god nii latet de sunde mere 
Dor god un latet de sunde vareu 
Se Avil sich god ouer uns en barmen 

Maria stund in grotzen nodeii 
Do se ire leue kint sa doden 

45 En svert dor ire sele snet 
Sunder dat la di wesen led 

In korter vrist 
Grod tornieli ist 
Jesus wart gelauet mid gallen 

50 Des sole wi an en eruce vallen 
Er heuet ueli mit uwen armen 
Dat sic god ouer uns en barme 
Jesus dorcb dine namen dry 
Nu make uns hir van sunde vry 

55 Jesus dor dine wnden rod 
Be bod uns vor den geben dod 
Dat be sende sinen geist 
Und uns dat kortelike leist 

De vrowe unde man ir e tobreken 

60 Dat wil god selven an en wreken 
Sveuel ])ik und ocli de galle 
Dat gutet de duuel in se alle 
Vor war sint se des duuels spot 
Dor vor bebode uns berre god 

65 De e de ist en reyne leuen 
De bad vms god selven gbeuen 

Icb rade uch vrowen unde mauuen 
Dor god gy solen houard anuen 
Des biddet ucb de arme sele 

70 Dorcb god nu latet bouard mere 
Dor god nu latet bouard varen 
So wil sich god ouer uns en barmen 

Cristus rep in bemelrike 
Sinen engelen al gelike. 

75 De cristenbeit wil mi ent wicben 
Des wil lau oeb se vor gaeu 


Tears from our sorrowing eyes we weep ; 
35 Therefore so firm our faith yve keep 

With all our hearts — with all our senses. 

Christ bore his pangs for our offences. 

Ply well the scourge for Jesus' sake, 

And God through Christ your sins shall take. 
40 For love of God abandon sin, 

To mend your vicious lives begin, 

So shall we his mercy win. 

Direful was Maria's pain 

When she beheld her dear One slain. 
45 Pierced was her soul as with a dart : 

Sinner, let this affect thy heart. 

The time draws near 

"When God in anger shall appear. 

Jesus was refreshed with gall : 
50 Prostrate crosswise let us fall. 

Then with uplifted arms arise, 

That God with us may sympathize. 

Jesus, by thy titles three,^ 

Prom our bondage set us free. 
55 Jesus, by thy precious blood, 

Save us from the fiery flood. 

Lord, our helplessness defend. 

And to our aid thy Spirit send. 

If man and wife their vows should break 
60 God will on svich his vengeance wreak. 

Brimstone and pitch, and mingled gall, 

Satan pours on such sinners all. 

Truly, the devil's scorn are they : 

Therefore, Lord, thine aid we pray. 
65 Wedlock's an honourable tie 

Which God himself doth sanctify. 

By this warning, man, abide, 

God shall surely punish pride. 

Let your precious soul entreat you, 
70 Lay down pride lest vengeance meet you. 

I do beseech ye, pride forsake, 

So God on us shall pity take. 

Christ in heaven, where he commands, 

Thus addressed his angel bands : — 
75 " Christendom dishonours me. 

Therefore her ruin I decree." 

- For the sake of thy Trinity. 


Marie bat ire kint so sere 
Leue kint la se di boten 
Dat wil ieb sceppen dat se moteu 
80 Bekeren sich. 

Des bidde ich dich 

Gi logenere 
Gy meynen ed sverer 

Gi bicbten reyne und Ian de sunde ucb ruwen 
85 So wil sich god in vicb A'or nuwen 
Owe du arme wokerere 
Du bringest en lod np en punt 
Dat senket din an der belle grunt 

Ir m order und ir straten rouere 
00 Ir sint dem leuen gode un mere 

Ir ne wilt ucb ouer nemende barmen 
Des sin gy eweliken vor loren 

Were dusse bote nicbt ge worden 
De cristenbeit wer gar vorsundeu 
95 De leyde duuel bad se ge bunden 
Maria bad lost unsen bant 

Sunder icb sagbe di leue mere 
Sunte peter is portenere 
Wende dicb an en be letset dich in 
100 He bringbet dich vor de koninghin 

Leue herre sunte Micbahel 
Du bist en plegber aller sel 
Be bode uns vor der belle nod 
Dat do dor dines sceppers dod. 


Then Mary thus implored her Son :r— 

" Penance to thee, loved Child, be done ; 

That she repent be mine the care ; 
80 Stay then thy wrath, and hear my prayer." 
Te liars ! 

Ye that break your sacrament, 

Shrive ye throughly and repent. 

Tour heinous sins sincerely rue, 
85 So shall the Lord your hearts renew. 

Woe ! usurer, though thy wealth abound, 

For every ounce thou mak'st a pound 

Shall sink thee to the hell profound. 

Ye murd'rers, and ye robbers all, 
90 The wrath of God on you shall fall. 

Mercy ye ne'er to others show. 

None shall ye find ; but endless woe. 

Had it not been for our contrition. 

All Christendom had met perdition. 
95 Satan had bound her in his chain ; 

Mary hath loosed her bonds again. 

Glad news I bring thee, sinful mortal, 

In heaven Saint Peter keeps the portal. 

Apply to him with suppliant mien, 
100 He bringeth thee before thy Queen. 

Benignant Michael, blessed saint, 

Guardian of souls, receive our plaint. 

Through thy Almighty Maker's death, 

Preserve us from the hell beneath. 



^^'anunation .of ll)c |ctos accused ,of poisoning i\n Mclls/ 

Answer from the Castellan of Chill on to the City of Strashiirg, together 
tvith a Copy of the Liquisition and Confession of several Jews con- 
fined in the Castle of Chillon on suspicioJi of poisoning. Anno 1348. 

To the Honourable the INIayor, Senate, and Citizens of the City of 
Strasburg, the CastelLan of Chillon, Deputy of the Bailiff of Chablais, 
sendeth greeting with all due svibmission and respect. 

Understanding that you desire to be made acquainted with the con- 
fession of the Jews, and the proofs brought forward against thera, I 
certify, by these presents, to you, and each of you that desires to be in- 
formed, that they of Berne have had a copy of the inquisition and con- 
fession of the Jews who lately resided in the places specified, and who 
were accused of putting poison into the wells and several other places : 
as also the most conclusive evidence of the truth of the charge preferred 
against them. Many Jews were put to the question, others being ex- 
cused from it, because they confessed, and were brought to trial and 
burnt. Several Christians, also, who had poison given them by the 
Jews for the purpose of destroying the Christians, were put on the 
wheel and tortured. This biu'ning of the Jews and torturing of the 
said Christians took place in many parts of the county of Savoy. 

Fare you well. 

The Confession made on the 15th day of Sep)temher, in the year of our 
Lord 1348, in the Castle of Chillon, hy the Jews arrested in JVeustadt, 
on the charge of Poisoning the IVells, Sjn'ings, and other places ; also 
Food, ^c, xoith the design of destroying and extirpating all Chris- 

I. Balavignus, a Jewish physician, inhabitant of Thonou, was 
arrested at Chillon in consequence of being found in the neighbour- 

1 An appearance of justice having been given to all later persecutions by these 
pi'oceedings, they deserve to be recorded as important historical documents, 'i'he 
original is in Latin, but vee have preferred the German translation in Konigshoven's 
■ Chronicle, p. 1029. 


hood. He was put for a short time to the rack, and on being taken 
down, confessed, after much hesitation, that, about ten weeks before, 
the Eabbi Jacob of Toledo, who, because of a citation, had resided 
at Chamberi since Easter, sent him, by a Jewish boy, some poison in 
the mummy of an egg : it was a powder sewed up in a thin leathern 
pouch accompanied by a letter, commanding him on penalty of ex- 
communication, and by his required obedience to the law, to throw 
this poison into the larger and more frequented wells of the town of 
Thonon, to poison those who drew water there. He was further en- 
joined not to communicate the circumstance to any person whatever, un- 
der the same penalty. In conformity with this command of the Jewish 
rabbis and doctors of the law, he, Balavignus, distributed the poison 
in several places, and acknowledged having one evening placed a certain 
portion under a stone in a spring on the shore at Thonon. He further 
confessed that the said boy brought various letters of a similar import, 
addressed to others of his nation, and particidarly specified some directed 
severally to Mossoiet, Banditon, and Samoleto of JSTeustadt ; to Musseo 
Abramo and Aquetus of Montreantz, Jews residing at Thurn in 
Vivey ; to Benetonus and his son at St. Moritz ; to Vivianus Jacobus, 
Aquetus and Sonetus, Jews at Aquani. — Several letters of a like nature 
were sent to Abram and Musset, Jews at Moncheoli ; and the boy told 
him that he had taken many others to different and distant places, but 
he did not recollect to whom they were addressed. Balavignus further 
confessed that, after having put the poison into the spring at Thonon, he 
had positively forbidden his wife and children to drink the water, biit 
had not thought fit to assign a reason. He avowed the truth of this 
statement, and, in the presence of several credible witnesses, swore by 
his Law, and the Five Books of Moses, to every item of his deposition. 

On the day following, Balavignus, voluntarily and without torture, 
ratified the above confession verbatim before many persons of character, 
and, of his own accord, acknowledged that, on returning one day from 
Tour near Vivey, he had thrown into a well below Mustruez, namel}^, 
that of La Conerayde, a quantity of the poison tied up in a rag, given 
to him for the purpose by Aquetus of Montreantz, an inhabitant of the 
said Tour : that he had acquainted Manssiono, and his son Delosaz, re- 
sidents of Neustadt,with the circumstance of his having done so, and ad- 
vertised them not to drink of the water. He described the colour of 
the poison as being red and black. 

On the nineteenth day of September, the above-named Balavignus 
confessed, without torture, that about three weeks after Whitsuntide, a 
Jew named Mussus told him that he had thrown poison into the well, 
in the cvistom-house of that place, the pro])erty of the Borneller family ; 
and that he no longer drank the water of this well, but that of the lake. 
He further deposed that Mussus informed him that he had also laid 
some of the poison under the stones in the custom-house at Chillon. 


Search was accordingly made iu tliis well, and the poison found : some 
of it was given to a Jew by way of trial, and he died in consequence. 
He also stated that the rabbis had ordered him and other Jews to re- 
frain from drinking of the water for nine days after the poison was in- 
fused into it ; and immediately on having poisoned the waters, he 
communicated the circumstance to the other Jews. He, Balavignus, 
confessed that about two months previously, being at Evian, he had 
some conversation on the subject with a Jew called Jacob, and among 
other things, asked him whether he also had received writings and poi- 
son, and was answered in the affirmative ; he then questioned him whe- 
ther he had obeyed the command, and Jacob replied that he had not, 
but had given the poison to Savetus, a Jew, who had thrown it into the 
well de Morer at Evian. Jacob also desired him, Balavignus, to exe- 
cute the command imposed on him with due caution. He confessed 
that Aquetus of Montreantz had informed him that he had thrown some 
of the poison into the well above Tour, the water of which he some- 
times drank. He confessed that Samolet had told him that he had laid 
the poison which he had received in a well, which, however, he refused 
to name to him. Balavignus, as a physician, further deposed that a per- 
son infected by such poison coming in contact with another while in a 
state of perspiration, infection would be the almost inevitable result; as 
might also happen from the breath of an infected person. This fact he 
believed to be correct, and was confirmed in his opinion by the attesta- 
tion of many experienced physicians. He also declared that none of his 
community could exculpate themselves from this accusation, as the plot 
was communicated to all ; and that all were guilty of the above charges. 
Balavignus was conveyed over the lake from Chillon to Clarens, to point 
out the well into which he confessed having thrown the powder. On 
landing, he was conducted to the spot ; and, having seen the Avell, ac- 
knowledged that to be the place, saying, " This is the well into which I 
put the poison." The well was examined in his presence, and the linen 
cloth in which the poison had been wrapped was found in the waste- 
pipe by a notary-public named Heinrich Gerhard, in the presence 
of many persons, and was shown to the said Jew. He acknow- 
ledged this to be the linen which had contained the poison, which he 
described as being of two colours, red and black, but said that he had 
thrown it into the open well. The linen cloth was taken away and is 

Balavignus, in conclusion, attests the truth of all and everything as 
above related. He believes this poison to contain a portion of the basi- 
lisk, because he had heard, and felt assured, that the above poison could 
not be prepared without it. 

II. Banditono, a Jew of Neustadt, was, on the fifteenth day of Sep- 
tember, subjected for a short time to the torture. After a long interval, 


he confessed having cast a quantity of poison, about the size of a large 
nut, given him by Musseus, a Jew, at Tour, near Yivej^, into the well 
of Carutet, in order to poison those who drank of it. 

The following day, Banditono, voluntarily and without torture, at- 
tested the truth of the aforesaid deposition ; and also confessed that the 
E/abbi Jacob von Pasche, who came from Toledo and had settled at 
Chamberi, sent him, at Pilliex, by a Jewish servant, some poison about 
the size of a large nut, together with a letter, directing him to throw the 
powder into the wells on pain of excommunication. He had therefore 
thrown the poison, which was sewn up in a leathern bag, into the well 
of Cercliti de Roch ; further, also, that he saw many other letters in the 
hands of the servant addressed to different Jews ; that he had also seen 
the said servant deliver one, on the outside of the upper gate, to Samu- 
letus, the Jew, at Neu.stadt. He stated, also, that the Jew, Massolet, 
had informed him that he had put poison into the well near the bridge 
at Vivey. 

III. The said Manssiono, Jew of Neustadt, was put upon the rack 
on the fifteenth day of the same month, but refused to admit the above 
charge, protesting his entire ignorance of the whole matter; but the day 
following, he, voluntarily and without any torture, confessed, in the pre- 
sence of many persons, that he came from Mancheolo one day in last 
Whitsun-week, in company with a Jew named Provenzal, and, on 
reaching the well of Chabloz Criiez between Yyona and Mura, the latter 
said, " You must put some of the poison which I will give you into that 
well, or woe betide you ! " He therefore took a portion of the powder 
about the bigness of a nut, and did as he- was directed. He believed 
that the Jews in the neighbourhood of Evian had convened a council 
among themselves relative to this plot, before "Whitsuntide. Pie further 
said that Balavignus had informed him of his having poisoned the well 
de la Conerayde below Mustruez. He also affirmed his conviction of the 
culpability of the Jews in this aftair, stating tliat they were fully ac- 
quainted with all the particulars, and guilty of the alleged crime. 

On the third day of the October following, Manssiono was brought 
before the commissioners, and did not in the least vary from his former 
deposition, or deny having put the poison into the said wells. 

The above-named Jews, prior to their execution, solemnly swore by 
their Law to the truth of their several depositions, and declared that all 
Jews whatsoever, from seven years old and upwards, could not be ex- 
empted from the charge of guilt, as all of them were acquainted with 
the plot, and more or less participators in the crime. 

\_The seven oilier examinations scarcely differ from the above, except in 
the names of the accused, and afford hut little variety. We will, therefore, 
only add a characteristic passage at the conclusion of this document. The 
whole sjyealisfor itself.'] 


There still remain numerous proofs and accusations against the above- 
mentioned Jews : also against Jews and Christians in different parts of 
the county of Savoy, who have already received the punishment due to 
their heinous crime ; which, however, I have not at hand, and cannot 
therefore send you. I must add, that all the Jews of Neustadt were 
burnt according to the just sentence of the law. At Augst, I was pre- 
sent Avhen three Christians were flayed on account of being accessory 
to the plot of poisoning. A^ery many Christians were arrested for this 
crime in various places in this country, especially at Evian, Gebenne, 
Krusilien, and Hochstett, M'ho at last and in their dj^ing moments were 
brought to confess and acknowledge that they had received the poison 
from the Jews. Of these Christians some have been quartered ; others 
flayed and afterwards hanged. Certain commissioners have been ap- 
pointed by the magistrates to enforce judgment against all the Jews ; 
and I believe that none will escape. 


The diseases whicli form the subject of the present investigation 
afford a deep insight into the works of the human mind in a state 
of Society. They are a portion of history, and will never return 
in the form in which they are there recorded ; but they expose a 
vulnerable part of man — the instinct of imitation — and are there- 
fore very nearly connected with human life in the aggregate. It 
appeared worth while to describe diseases which are propagated 
on the beams of light — on the wings of thought ; which convulse 
the mind by the excitement of the senses, and wonderfully affect 
the nerves, the media of its will and of its feelings. It seemed 
worth while to attempt to place these disorders between the epi- 
demics of a less I'efined origin, which affect the body more than 
the soul, and all those passions and emotions which border on the 
vast domain of disease, ready at every moment to pass the bound- 
ary. Should we be able to deduce from the grave facts of history 
here developed, a convincing proof that the human race, amidst 
the creation which surrounds it, moves in body and soul as an in- 
dividual whole, the Author might hope that he had approached 
nearer to his ideal of a grand comprehension of diseases in time 
and space, and be encouraged, by the co-operation of contem- 
poraries, zealous in the search of truth, to proceed along the path 
which he has already entered, in prosecuting the investigation. 


Dr. Hecker's account of the " Black Death " having, in its 
English translation, met with a favourable reception, I am led to 
believe that the "Dancing Mania," a similar production by the 
same able writer, will also prove acceptable. Should this be the 
case, it is my intention to complete the series by translating the 
history of the " Sweating Sickness," the onl}^ remaining epi- 
demic considered by our author to belong to the Middle Ages. 

The mind and the body reciprocally and mysteriously affect 
each other, and the maladies which are the subject of these pages, 
are so intimately connected with the disordered state of both, 
that it is often difficult to determine on which they more essen- 
tially depend, or which they more seriously influence. 

The physician will probably be led by their contemplation to 
admit that the imagination has a larger share in the production 
of disease than he might, without a knowledge of the striking 
facts here recorded, have supposed to be within the limits of pos- 
sibility. He has, no doubt, already observed, that joy w^ill affect the 
circulation, grief the digestion ; that anger will heat the frame as 
perniciously as ardent spirits, and that fear will chill it as certain- 
ly as ice ; but he may not have carried his observation to the ex- 
tent of perceiving, that not only single and transient effects, but 
specific diseases are produced through the agency of mental im- 
pressions, and he may therefore still be surprised to find that the 
dances of St. John and of St. Yitus, as they formerly spread by 
sympathy from city to city, gave rise to the same deviations from 
bodily health, in all the individuals whom they attacked ; that 
Tarantism was the same disease, whether medically or morally 
considered, all over Italy; and that the " Lycanthropia " of the 
past, and the " Leaping Ague " of the present times, have each 
its respective train of peculiar symptoms. 


The moralist will view these records of human frailt}- in a 
different light ; he will examine the state of society which favour- 
ed the propagation of such maladies ; he will inquire how far 
they have been the offspring of the ages in which they appeared, 
and although he may not be disposed to think with our author, 
that they can never return, he will at least deduce from the facts 
here laid before him, that they originate in those minds, whether 
ignorant or ill-educated, in which the imagination is permitted to 
usurp the power of sober sense, and the ideal is allowed to occupy 
the thoughts to the exclusion of the substantial. 

That such minds are most frequently to be met with in an age 
of ignorance, we should naturally suppose, and we are borne out 
in that supposition by the fact, that these diseases have been de- 
clining in proportion to the advance of knowledge ; but credulity 
and enthusiasm are not incompatible with a high degree of civil- 
ization ; and if, among the educated classes, the female sex is 
more sentimental than the male, and the affluent are more credu- 
lous than those who are dependent on their own exertions for their 
support, it is to be accounted for by the fact, that they usu- 
ally devote more leisure to the pleasurable contemplation of works 
of imagination, and are less imperatively^ called on to improve their 
judgment by the dry study of facts, and the experience acquired 
in the serious business of life. But there is no class, even in this 
age of boasted reason, wholly exempt from the baneful influence 
of fanaticism ; and instances are not wanting, in our own days, 
and in this very capital, to prove, that disorders (how can we 
more charitably designate them ?) much resembling some of those 
described in the following pages, may make their appearance 
among people who have had all the advantages of an enlightened 
education, and every opportunity of enlarging their minds by a 
free intercourse with refined society. 

I thus venture to hope, that by bestowing a leisure hour on this 
small portion of medical history, the physician may enlarge his 
knowledge of disease, and the moralist may gather a hint for the 
intellectual improvement of his fellow-men. The author has, 
however, a more extended object in view — the histories of particu- 
lar epidemics are with him but the data from which we are to de- 
duce the general laws that govern human health in the aggregate. 
Whether there be such an entity as collective organic life, and 
whether, as a consequence, there exist general laws which regulate 
its healthy or morbid condition, I do not here undertake to deter- 
mine ; but the notion is peculiar, and in order that it may be more 

78 translator's preface. 

fully exposed to the reader, I have translated, as an inti-oduction 
to the present volume,' an Appeal which Dr. Hecker has made to 
the medical profession of his own country for assistance in his 
undertaking. If, in the course of the remarks contained in this 
address, he has been somewhat se^'ere in his censure of the neglect, 
both in this country and in France, of the study of ^Medical His- 
tory, I freely confess myself to be one of those who are more 
anxious to profit by his castigation than to dispute its justice. 

I have added a few Notes, which I trust will be found not in- 
applicable. They consist chiefly of parallel accounts in illustra- 
tion of what is set forth in the text ; and with the same view, I 
have thrown together in No. Y. of the Appendix, some Histories 
of Local Epidemics, and have referred to some single cases, which 
seem to me to have a peculiar interest in connexion with the sub- 
ject of this work, and to render it, on the whole, more complete. 

' By this term the reader is now to understand the "Epidemics of the Middle Ages." 
This work not having been published, as a whole, in the original, there is no general 
preface by the Author. His Address to the Physicians of Germany is therefore prefixed 
as an appropriate substitute. 





Sect. 1. — St. John's Dance, 

The effects of the Black Death had not yet subsided, and the 
graves of millions of its victims were scarcely closed, when a 
strange delusion arose in Germany, which took possession of the 
minds of men, and, in spite of the divinity of our nature, hurried 
away bod}' and soul into the magic circle of hellish superstition. 
It was a convulsion which in the most extraordinary manner in- 
furiated the human frame, and excited the astonishment of con- 
temporaries for more than two centuries, since which time it has 
never reappeared. It was called the dance of St. John or of St. 
Yitus, on account of the Bacchantic leaps by which it was charac- 
terized, and which gave to those affected, whilst performing their 
wild dance, and screaming and foaming with fury, all the ap- 
pearance of persons possessed. It did not remain confined to 
particular localities, but was propagated by the sight of the suf- 
ferers, like a demoniacal epidemic, over the whole of Germany 
and the neighbouring countries to the north-west, which were 
already prepared for its reception by the prevailing opinions of the 

So early as the year 1374, assemblages of men and women were 
seen at Aix-la-Chapelle who had come out of German}^ and who, 
united by one common delusion, exhibited to the public both in 
the streets and in the churches the following strange spectacle.^ 
They formed circles hand in hand, and appearing to have lost all 
control over their senses, continued dancing, regardless of the by- 
standers,' for hours together in wild delirium, until at length they 

' Odor. Raynald. Annal. Ecclesiastic. A. 1374. Lucse, 1752. fol. Tom. VII. p. 252. 

ST. John's dance. 81 

fell to the ground in a state of exhaustion. They then complained 
of extreme oppression, and groaned as if in the agonies of death, 
until they were swathed in cloths bound tightly round their waists, 
upon which they again recovered, and remained free from com- 
plaint until the next attack. This practice of swathing was re- 
sorted to on account of the tympany which followed these spasmodic 
ravings, but the by-standers frequently relieved patients in a less 
artificial manner, by thumping and trampling upon the parts 
affected. While dancing they neither saw nor heard, being in- 
sensible to external impressions through the senses, but were 
haunted by visions, their fancies conjuring up spirits whose names' 
they shrieked out ; and some of them afterwards asserted that they 
felt as if they had been immersed in a stream of blood, which 
obliged them to leap so high.^ Others, during the paroxysm, saw 
the heavens open and the Saviour enthroned with the Virgin Mary, 
according as the religious notions of the age were strangely and 
variously reflected in their imaginations.^ 

Where the disease was completely developed, the attack com- 
menced with epileptic convulsions.^ Those affected fell to the 
ground senseless, panting and labouring for breath. They foamed 
at the mouth, and suddenh^ springing up began their dance amidst 
strange contortions. Yet the malady doubtless made its appear- 
ance very variously, and was modified by temporary or local cir- 
cumstances, whereof non-medical contemporaries but imperfectly 
noted the essential particulars, accustomed as they were to con- 
found their observation of natural events with their notions of the 
world of spirits. 

It was but a few months ere this demoniacal disease had spread 
from Aix-la-Chapelle, where it appeared in July, over the neigh- 
bouring Netherlands.^ In Liege, Utrecht, Tongres, and many 

^ Joh. Wier's ample Catalogue of Spirits gives no information on this point. Pseudo- 
monarchia dEemonum. Opera omnia, Amstelod. 1660. 4to. p. 659. — Ray?iald mentions 
the word Frisckes as the name of a spirit ; but this mistake is easily accounted for by his 
ignorance of the language; for, according to the Chronicle of Cologne, the St. John's 
dancers sang during their paroxysm : " Here Sent Johan. so so, vrisch ind vro, here Sent 
Johan." St. John so, so, brisk and cheerful, St. John. Die Cronica van der hilliger 
Stat van Coellen, fol. 277. Coellen, 1499. fol. 

"^ Cyr. Spa7igenberg, Adels-Spiegel — Mirror of Nobility, a detailed historical account 
of what nobility is, &c. Schmalkalden, 1591. fol. Fol. 403. h. 

^ Petr. de Herentals, Appendix, No. I. 

* Jo. Trithem. Chronic. Sponheimense. A. 1374. Opera historic. Francof. 1601. fol. 
p. 332. Also : Ahrah, Bzovii Annal. Ecclesiastic. Tom. XIV. Colon. Agripp. 1625. fol. 
Ann. 1374. (Maniaca passio. S. Johannis chorea.) 

5 Jo. Pistorii Rerum Familiarumque Bclgicarum Chronicon magnum. Francof. 1654. 



other towns of Belgium, the dancers appeared with garlands in 
their hair, and their waists girt with cloths, that they might, as 
soon as the paroxysm was over, receive immediate relief on the 
attack of the tympany. This bandage was, by the insertion of a 
stick, easil}^ twisted tight : many, however, obtained more relief 
from kicks and blows, which they found numbers of persons ready 
to administer ; for,'wherever the dancers appeared, the people as- 
sembled in crowds to gratify their curiosity with the frightful 
spectacle. At length the increasing number of the affected excited 
no less anxiety than the attention that was paid to them. In towns 
and villages they took possession of the religious houses, pro- 
cessions were everywhere instituted on their account, and masses 
were said and hymns were sung, while the disease itself, of the 
demoniacal origin of which no one entertained the least doubt, 
excited everywhere astonishment and horror. In Liege the priests 
had recourse to exorcisms, and endeavoured, by every means in 
their power, to allay an evil which threatened so much danger to 
themselves ; for the possessed assembling in multitudes, frequently 
poured forth imprecations against them, and menaced their de- 
struction. They intimidated the people also to such a degree that 
there was an express ordinance issued that no one should make any 
but square-toed shoes, because these fanatics had manifested a 
morbid dislike to the pointed, shoes which had come into fashion 
immediately after the Great Mortality, in 1350.^ They were still 
more irritated at the sight of red colours, the influence of which 
on the disordered nerves might lead us to imagine an extraordinary 
accordance between this spasmodic malady and the condition of 
infuriated animals ; but in the St. John's dancers this excitement 
was probably connected with apparitions consequent upon their 

fol. p. 319. Here the persons affected are called doTwatores, chorisantes. See the whole 
passage in the Appendix, No. II. Compare Incerti auctoris vetus chronicon Belgicum, 
Matthcei veteris aevi Analecta. Hag. com. 1738. 4to. Tom. I. p. 51. "Anno 
MCCCLXXIV. the dansers appeared. Gens impaeata cadit, dudum cruciata salvat." 
This should be salivat ; a quotation from a Latin poem not now extant. 

1 The Limburg Chronicle, published by C. D. Vogel, Marburg, 1828. 8vo. p. 27. 
This singular phenomenon cannot but remind us of the ''Demon of Fashion," of the 
middle ages. Extravagant as the love of dress vras after the middle of the fourteenth 
century, the opposition of the enemies of fashion was equally great, and they let sUp no 
opportunity of crying down every change or innovation as the work of the devil. Hence 
it is extremely probable that the fanatic penitential sermons of zealous priests excited 
this singular aversion of the St. Vitus dancers. In later times, also, signs and wonders 
took place, on account of things equally insignificant, and the' fury of the possessed was 
directed against the fashions. Compare Mohsen's Historj- of the Sciences in the Mark 
of Brandenburg, p. 498. f. 

ST. John's dance. 83 

convulsions. There were likewise some of them who were unable 
to endure the sight of persons weeping.^ The clergy seemed to 
become daily more and more confirmed in their belief that those 
who were affected were a kind of sectarians, and on this account 
they hastened their exorcisms as much as possible, in order that 
the evil might not spread amongst the higher classes, for hitherto 
scarcely any but the poor had been attacked, and the few people 
of respectability among the laity and clergy who were to be found 
among them, were persons whose natural frivolity was unable to 
withstand the excitement of novelty, even though it proceeded 
from a demoniacal influence. Some of the afiected had indeed 
themselves declared, when under the influence of priestly forms of 
exorcism, that if the demons had been allowed only a few weeks 
more time, they would have entered the bodies of the nobility and 
princes, and through these have destroyed the clergy. Assertions 
of this sort, which those possessed uttered whilst in a state which 
may be compared with that of magnetic sleep, obtained general 
belief, and passed from mouth to mouth with wonderful additions. 
The priesthood were, on this account, so much the more zealous 
in their endeavours to anticipate every dangerous excitement of 
the people, as if the existing order of things could have been se- 
riously threatened by such incoherent ravings. Their exertions 
were efiectual, for exorcism was a powerful remedy in the four- 
teenth century ; or it might perhaps be that this wild infatuation 
terminated in consequence of the exhaustion which naturally en- 
sued from it ; at all events, in the course of ten or eleven months 
the St. John's dancers were no longer to be found in any of the 
cities of Belgium. The evil, however, was too deeply rooted to 
give way altogether to such feeble attacks.'^ 

A few months after this dancing malady had made its appear- 
ance at Aix-la-Chapelle, it broke out at Cologne, where the num- 
ber of those possessed amounted to more than five hundred,^ and 
about the same tine at Metz, the streets of which place are said 
to have been filled with eleven hundred dancers.* Peasants left 
their ploughs, mechanics their workshops, housewives their domes- 
tic duties, to join the wild revels, and this rich commercial city be- 

' Petr. de Herentals. Appendix, No. I. 

2 Respecting tlie exorcisms used, see E. G. Forstemann, the Christian Societies of 
FlageHants. Halle, 1828. 8vo. p. 232. 

3 Limburg Chronicle, p. 71. Cologne Chronicle, loc. cit. See Appendix, Nos. III. 
and IV. 

* Dans la ville y eut des dansans, tant grands qixe petits, onze cents. Journal de 
Paris, 1785. 

6 * 


came the scene of the most ruinous disorder. Secret desires were 
excited, and but too often found opportunities for wild enjoyment ; 
and numerous beggars, stimulated by vice and misery, availed 
themselves of this new complaint to gain a temporary livelihood. 
Girls and boys quitted their parents, and servants their masters, 
to amuse themselves at the dances of those possessed, and greedily 
imbibed the poison of mental infection. Above a hundred un- 
married women were seen raving about in consecrated and un- 
consecrated places, and the consequences were soon perceived.' 
Gangs of idle vagabonds, who understood how to imitate to the 
life the gestures and convulsions of those really affected, roved 
from place to place seeking maintenance and adventures, and thus, 
wherever they went, sjDreading this disgusting spasmodic disease 
like a plague ; for in maladies of this kind the susceptible are in- 
fected as easily by the appearance as by the reality. At last it 
was found necessary to drive away these mischievous guests, who 
were equall}^ inaccessible to the exorcisms of the priests and the 
remedies of the physicians. It was not, however, until after four 
months that the Rhenish cities were able to suppress these impos- 
tures, which had so alarmingly increased the original evil. In the 
mean time, when once called into existence, the plague crept on, 
and found abundant food in the tone of thought which prevailed 
in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and even, though in a 
minor degree, throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth, causing 
a permanent disorder of the mind, and exhibiting, in those cities 
to whose inhabitants it was a novelty, scenes as strange as they 
were detestable. 

Sect. 2. — St. Vitus's Dance. ^ 

Strasburg was visited by the " Dancing Plague " in the year 
1418, and the same infatuation existed among the people there, 

' Scheiik. V. Grafenburg. loc. cit. 

^ " Chorus Sancti Yiti, or St. Titus' Dance ; the lascivious dance, Paracelsus calls it, 
because they that are taken with it, can do nothing but dance till they be dead, or 
cured. It is so called for that the parties so troubled were wont to go to St. Vitus for 
help ; and, after they had danced there awhile, they were certainly freed. 'Tis strange 
to hear how long they will dance, and in what manner, over stools, forms, tables ; even 
great-bellied women sometimes (and yet never hurt their children) will dance so long 
that they can stir neither hand nor foot, but seem to be quite dead. One in red clothes 
they cannot abide. Musick above all things they love ; and therefore magistrates in 
Germany will hire musicians to 2>lay to them, and some lusty, sturdy companions to 
dance with them. This disease hath been very common in Germany, as appears by 
those relations of Sclienkius, and Paracelsus in his book of madness, who brags how 
many several persons he hath cured of it. Felix Platerus {de Mentis Alienat. cap. 3.) 


as in the towns of Belgium and the Lower Rhine,^ Many who 
were seized at the sight of those affected, excited attention at 
first by their confused and absurd behaviour, and then by their 
constantly following the swarms of dancers. These were seen 
day and night passing through the streets, accompanied by 
musicians playing on bagpipes, and by innumerable spectators 
attracted by curiosity, to which were added anxious parents and 
relations, who came to look after those among the misguided 
multitude who belonged to their respective families. Imposture 
and profligacy played their part in this city also, but the morbid 
delusion itself seems to have predominated. On this account 
religion could only bring provisional aid, and therefore the town- 
council benevolently took an interest in the afflicted. They 
divided them into separate parties, to each of which they appoint- 
ed responsible superintendents to protect them from harm, and 
perhaps also to restrain their turbulence. They were thus con- 
ducted on foot and in carriages to the chapels of St. Vitus, near 
Zabern and Rotestein, where priests were in attendance to work 
upon their misguided minds by masses and other religious cere- 
monies. After divine worship was completed, they were led in 
solfii" ;^ procession to the altar, where they made some small offer- 
ing of alms, and where it is probable that many were, through the 
influence of devotion and the sanctity of the place, cured of this 
lamentable aberration. It is worthy of observation, at all events, 
that the Dancing Mania did not recommence at the altars of the 
saint, and that from him alone assistance was implored, and through 
his miraculous interposition a cure was expected, which was be- 

reports of a woman in Basle whom he saw, that danced a whole month together. The 
Arabians call it a kind oi palsie. Bodine, in his fifth book, de Eepub. cap. 1. speaks of 
this infirmity ; Monavius, in his last epistle to Scoltizius, and in another to Dudithus, 
where you may read more of it." — Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy^ Vol. I. p. 15.— 
Transl. note. 

1 J. of Konigshoven, the oldest German Chronicle in existence. The contents are 
general, but devoted more exclusively to Alsace and Strasburg, published by SchiUer?i,, 
Strasburg, 1698. 4to. Observat. 21, of St. Vitus's Dance, p. 1085. f. 

" Viel hundert fingen zu Strassburg an 
Zu tanzen und springen Frau und Mann, 
Am oifnen Markt, Gassen und Strassen 
Tag und Nacht ihrer viel nicht assen. 
Bis ihn das Wlithen wieder gelag. 
St. Vits Tanz ward genannt die Flag." 

"Many hundreds of men and women began to dance and jump in the public market- 
place, the lanes, and the streets of Strasburg. Many of them ate nothing for days and 
nights, until their mania again subsided. The plague was called St. Vitus's Dance." 


yond the reacli of human skill. The personal history of St. Vitus 
is by no means unimportant in this matter. He was a Sicilian 
youth, who, together with Modestus and Crescentia, suSered 
martyrdom at the time of the persecution of the Christians, under 
Diocletian, in the year 303,^ The legends respecting him are 
obscure, and he would certainly have been passed over without 
notice among the innumerable apocryphal martyrs of the first 
centuries, had not the transfer of his body to St. Denys, and 
thence, in the year 836, to Corvey, raised him to a higher rank. 
From this time forth, it may be supposed that many miracles 
were manifested at his new sepulchre, which were of essential ser- 
vice in confirming the Roman faith among the Germans, and St. 
Vitus was soon ranked among the fourteen saintly helpers (Noth- 
helfer or Apotheker).^ His altars were multiplied, and the 

* C(es. Baron. Annales ecclesiastic. Tom. II. p. 819. Colon. Agripp. 1609. fol. 
See the more ample Acta Sanctorum Junii (The 15th of June is St. Vitus's day), Tom. 
II. p. 1013. Antwerp. 1698. fol. From which we shall merely add that Mazara, in 
Sicily, is supposed to have been the birth-place of our Saint, and that his father's name 
was Hylas ; that he went from thence with Crescentia (probably his nurse) and Mo- 
destus to Lucania, with both of whom he suffered martyrdom under Diocletian. They 
are all said to have been buried at Florence, and it was not long before the miraculous 
powers of St. Vitus, which had already manifested themselves in his lifetime, '^"xe ac- 
knowledged throughout Italy. The most celebrated of his chapels were situated on ihe 
Promontory of Sicily (called by his name), in Eome and in Polignano, whither many 
pilgrimages were made by the sick. Persons who had been bitten by mad dogs believed 
that they would find an infallible cure at his altars, though the power of the Saint in 
curing wounds of this kind was afterwards disputed by the followers of St. Hubertu'S, 
the Saint of the Chase. In 672, his body was ^\'ith much pomp moved to Apulia, but 
soon after the priests of many churches and chapels in Italy, gave out that they were in 
possession of portions of the saint's body which worked miracles. In the eighth cen- 
tury the veneration of this youthful mart)T extended itself to France, and the honour of 
possessing his body was conferred on the church of St. Denys. By command of the 
Pope it was solemnly delivered on the 19th of March, 836, by the Abbot Hilduwi?ius, of 
St. Denys, to the Abbot Wari7ius, of Corvey (founded in 822). On its way thither., 
which occupied three months (to the 13th of June), many miracles were performed, and 
the subsequent Abbots of Corvey were able for centuries to maintain the popular be- 
lief in the miraculous healing power of their relics, which had indiscriminate influence 
on all diseases, more especially on those of a demoniacal kind. See Monachi anonym i 
Historia translationis S. Viti. In G. H. Periz, Monumenta Germanise Historica. Tom , 
II. Hannov. 1828. fol. p. 576. As a proof of the great veneration for St. Vitus in the 
fourteenth century, we may further mention that Charles IV. dedicated to him the 
Cathedral of Prague, of which he had laid the foundation, and caused him to be pro- 
claimed patron Saint of Bohemia, and a nominal body of the holy martyr was, for this 
purpose, brought from Parma. Act. Sanctor. loc. cit. 

2 Probably a corruption of Apotroptei. The expression is constantly met with ; for 
example, in Agricola, Proverbs, No. 497. These are the Sfot oKtliKaKoi, the dii 
averrunci of the ancients. The fourteen saints, to whose churches (between Bamberg 
and Coburg) thousands still annually make pilgrimages, are the following : 1. Georgius. 
2. Blasius. 3. Erasmus. 4. Vitus. 5. Pantaleon. 6. Christophorus. 7. Dionysius, 


people had recourse to them in all kinds of distresses, and revered 
him as a powerful intercessor. As the worship of these saints 
was however at that time stripped of all historical connexions, 
which were purposely obliterated by the priesthood, a legend was 
invented at the beginning of the fifteenth century, or perhaps even 
so early as the fourteenth, that St. Vitus had, just before he bent 
his neck to the sword, prayed to God that he might protect from 
the Dancing Mania all those who should solemnize the day of his 
commemoration, and fast upon its eve, and that thereupon a voice 
from heaven was heard, saying, "Vitus, thy prayer is accepted."^ 
Thus St. Vitus became the patron saint of those afflicted with the 
dancing plague, at St. Martin of Tours was at one time the suc- 
courer of persons in small-pox ; St. Antonius of those suffering 
under the " hellish fire ;" and as St. Margaret was the Juno 
Lucina of puerperal women. 

Sect. 3. — Causes. 

The connexion which John the Baptist had with the dancing 
mania of the fourteenth century, was of a totally different charac- 
ter. He was originally far from being a protecting saint to those 
who were attacked, or one who would be likely to give them relief 
from a malady considered as the work of the devil. On the con- 
trary, the manner in which he was worshipped afforded an im- 
portant and very evident cause for its development. From the 
remotest period, perhaps even so far back as the fourth century, 
St. John's day was solemnized with all sorts of strange and rude 
customs, of which the originally mystical meaning was variously 
disfigured among different nations by superadded relics of hea- 
thenism.^ Thus the Germans transferred to the festival of St. 
John's day an ancient heathen usage, the kindling of the " Nodfyr," 
which was forbidden them by St. Boniface, and the belief subsists 
even to the present day that people and animals that have leaped 
through these flames, or their smoke, are protected for a whole 
year from fevers and other diseases, as if by a kind of baptism by 

8. Cyriacus. 9. Achatius. 10. Eustacbius. 11. ^gidius. 12. Margaretha. 13. 
Catharina. 14. Barbara. 

1 J. Agricola. Sybenbundert und fiinffzig Teutscber Sprichworter. No. 497. Seven 
hundred and fifty German Proverbs. Hagemau, 1537. 8vo. fol. 248. 

2 St. Augustine bad already warned the people against committing excesses and sing- 
ing profane songs at the festival of St. John : " Nee permittamus solemnitatem sanctam 
cantica luxuriosa proferendo polluere." — St. Augusti Denkwiirdigkeiten aus der Christ- 
lichen Archaologie. Vol. III. p. 166. Leipzig. 1820. 8vo. Memorabilia of Christian 


fire.* Bacchanalian dances, which have originated in similar 
causes among: all the rude nations of the earth, and the wild ex- 
travagancies of a heated imagination, were the constant accom- 
paniments of this half-heathen, half-christian festival. At the 
period of which we are treating, however, the Germans were not 
the only people who gave way to the ebullitions of fanaticism in 
keeping the festival of St. John the Baptist. Similar customs were 
also to be found among the nations of Southern Europe and of 
Asia," and it is more than probable that the Greeks transferred to 
the festival of John the Baptist, who is also held in high esteem 
among the Mahomedans, a part of their Bacchanalian mysteries, 
an absurdity of a kind which is but too frequently met within human 
affairs. How far a remembrance of the history of St. John's death 
may have had an influence on this occasion, we would leave learned 
theologians to decide. It is only of importance here to add, that 
in Abyssinia, a country entirely separated from Europe, where 
Christianity has maintained itself in its primeval simplicity against 
Mahomedanism, John is to this day worshij)ped, as protecting 
saint of those who are attacked with the dancing malady.^ In 
these fragments of the dominion of mysticism and superstition, 
historical connexion is not to be found. 

When we observe, however, that the first dances in Aix-la- 
Chapelle appeared in July with St. John's name in their mouths, 
the conjecture is probable that the wild revels of St. John's day, 
A.D. 1374, gave rise to this mental plague, which thenceforth 

^ Wirthxoein. Series chronologic. Epistolarum S. Bonifacii ab ami. 716 — 755. 
LVII. Concil. Liptinens. p. 131. XV. De igne fricato de ligno, id est, Nodfyr. See 
Joh. Reiskii. Untersucliung des bei den Alten Teutschen gebrauchlichen heidnischen 
Nodfyrs, imgleicben des Oster-und Johannis-Feuers. Enquiry respecting the heathen 
Nodfyrs customary among the ancient Germans, and also the Easter and St. John's fires. 
Frankfort, 1696. 8vo. 

"^ The Bishop Theodoret of Cyrus in Syria, states, that at the festival of St. John, 
large fires were annually kindled in several towns, through which men, women, and chil- 
dren jumped ; and that young children were carried through by their mothers. He con- 
sidered this custom as an ancient Asiatic ceremony of purification, similar to that re- 
corded of Ahaz, in 2 Kings xvi. 3. (Quiiestiones in IV. Libr, Eegum. Interrogat. 47, 
p. 352. Beati Theodoreti, Episcop. Cyri Opera omnia. Ed. Jac. Sirmondi, Lut. Paris. 
1642. fol. T. I.) Zonaras, Balsamon, a7id Photius speak of the St. John's fires in Con- 
stantinople, and the first looks upon it as the remains of an old Grecian custom. See 
Reiske, loc. cit. p. 81. That such different nations should have had the same idea of 
fixing the purification by fire on St. John's day, is a remarkable coincidence, which per- 
haps can be accounted for only by its analogy to baptism. 

3 The Life and Adventures of Nathmiiel Pearce, written by himself, during a resi- 
dence in Abyssinia fi-om the year 1810 to 1819. Edited by .7. J. Halls. 2 Vols. 8vo. 
London, 1831. chap. ix. p. 290. 


has visited so many thousands with incurable aberration of mind, 
and disgusting distortions of body. 

This is rendered so much the more probable, because some 
months previously the districts in the neighbourhood of the Rhine 
and the Maine had met with great disasters. So early as February, 
both these rivers had overflowed their banks to a great extent ; 
the walls of the town of Cologne, on the side next the Rhine, had 
fallen down, and a great many villages had been reduced to the 
utmost distress.^ To this was added the miserable condition of 
Western and Southern Germany. Neither law nor edict could 
suppress the incessant feuds of the Barons, and in Franconia especi- 
ally, the ancient times of club law appeared to be revived. Se- 
curity of property there was none ; arbitrary will everywhere pre- 
vailed ; corruption of morals and rude power rarely met with even 
a feeble opposition ; whence it arose that the cruel, but lucrative, 
persecutions of the Jews were in many places still practised, 
through the whole of this century, with their wonted ferocity. 
Thus, throughout the western parts of Germany, and especially 
in the districts bordering on the Rhine, there was a wretched and 
oppressed populace ; and if we take into consideration, that among 
their numerous bands many wandered about, whose consciences 
were tormented with the recollection of the crimes which they had 
committed during the prevalence of the black plague, we shall 
comprehend how their despair sought relief in the intoxication of 
an artificial delirium.^ There is hence good ground for supposing 
that the frantic celebration of the festival of St. John, a. d. 1374, 
only served to bring to a crisis a malady which had been long 
impending ; and if we would further inquire how a hitherto harm- 
less usage, which, like many others, had but served to keep up 
superstition, could degenerate into so serious a disease, we must 
take into account the unusual excitement of men's minds, and the 

1 Joann. Trithem. Annal. Hirsaugiens. Oper. Tom. II. Hirsaug. 1690. fol. p. 263. 
A. 1374. See the before-mentioned Chronicle of Cologne, fol. 276. b., wherein it is said 
that the people passed in boats and rafts over the city walls. 

2 ^Vhat took place at the St. John's fires in the middle ages (about 1280) we leai-n by a 
communication from the Bishop Gidl. Durantes of Aquitania. (Rationale divinorum 
officiorum. L. YII. c. 26. In Reiske, loc. cit. p. 77.) Bones, horns, and other rubbish, 
were heaped together to be consumed in smoke, while persons of all ages danced round 
the flames as if they had been possessed, in the same way as at the Palilia, an ancient 
Roman lustration by fire, whereat those who took part in them sprang through a fire 
made of straw. (Ovid. Met. XIV. 774. Fast. IV. 721.) Others seized burning flam- 
beaux, and made a circuit of the fields, in the supposition that they thereby screened 
them from danger, while others, again, turned a cart-wheel, to represent the retrograde 
movement of the sun. 


consequences of wretchedness and want. The bowels, which in 
many were debilitated by hunger and bad food, were precisely the 
parts which in most cases were attacked with excruciating pain, 
and the tympanitic state of the intestines, points out to the intelli- 
gent physician an origin of the disorder which is well worth con- 

Sect. 4. — More ancient Dancing Plagues. 

The dancing mania of the year 1374 was, in fact, no new dis- 
ease, but a phenomenon well known in the middle ages, of which 
many wondrous stories were traditionally current among the peo- 
ple. In the year 1237, upwards of a hundred children were said 
to have been suddenly seized with this disease at Erfurt, and to 
have proceeded dancing and jumping along the road to Arnstadt. 
When they arrived at that place they fell exhausted to the ground, 
and, according to an account of an old chronicle, many of them, 
after they were taken home by their parents, died, and the rest 
remained affected, to the end of their lives, with the permanent 
tremor.^ Another occurrence was related to have taken place on 
the Mosel bridge at Utrecht, on the 17th day of June, a.d. 1278, 
when two hundred fanatics began to dance, and would not desist 
until a priest passed who was carrying the Host to a person that 
was sick, upon which, as if in punishment of their crime, the 
bridge gave way, and they were all drowned.^ A similar event 
also occurred so early as the year 1027, near the convent church 
of Kolbig, not far from Bernburg. According to an oft-repeated 
tradition, eighteen peasants, some of whose names are still pre- 
served, are said to have disturbed divine service on Christmas eve, 
by dancing and brawling in the churchyard, whereupon the priest, 
Ruprecht, inflicted a curse upon them, that they should dance 
and scream for a whole year without ceasing. This curse is stated 
to have been completely fulfilled, so that the unfortunate sufferers 
at length sank knee deep into the earth, and remained the whole 
time without nourishment, until they were finally released by the 
intercession of two pious bishops. It is said, that upon this they 
fell into a deep sleep, which lasted three days, and that four of 
them died : the rest continuing to suffer all their lives from a 

1 J. Chr. Beekma7in, HIstoria des Fiirstenthums Anhalt. Zerbst. History of the 
Principality of Anhalt. Zerbst. 1710. fol. Part III. book 4. chap. 4. $ 3. p. 467. 

2 Martini Minoritoe Flores temporum, in Jo. Georg. Eccard, Corpus historiae medii 
sevi. Lips. 1723. fol. Tom. I. p. 1632. 


trembling of their limbs.^ It is not worth while to separate what 
may have been true, and what the addition of crafty priests, in 
this strangely distorted story. It is sufficient that it was believed, 
and related with astonishment and horror throughout the middle 
ages ; so that when there was any exciting cause for this delirious 
raving, and wild rage for dancing, it failed not to produce its 
effects upon men whose thoughts were given up to a belief in 
wonders and apparitions. 

This disposition of mind, altogether so peculiar to the middle 
ages, and which, happily for mankind, has yielded to an improved 
state of civilization and the diffusion of popular instruction, ac- 
counts for the origin and long duration of this extraordinary 
mental disorder. The good sense of the people recoiled with 
horror and aversion from this heavy plague, which, whenever 
malevolent persons wished to curse their bitterest enemies and 
adversaries, was long after used as a malediction.^ The indigna- 
tion also that was felt by the people at large against the immoral- 
ity of the age, was proved by their ascribing this frightful afflic- 
tion to the inefficacy of baptism by unchaste priests, as if innocent 
children were doomed to atone, in after years, for this desecra- 
tion of the sacrament administered by unholy hands.^ We have 
already mentioned what perils the priests in the Netherlands 
incurred from this belief. They now, indeed, endeavoured to 
hasten their reconciliation with the irritated, and at that time 
very degenerate people,* by exorcisms, which, with some, procured 
them greater respect than ever, because they thus visibly restored 
thousands of those who were affected. In general, however, there 
prevailed a want of confidence in their efficacy, and then the 
sacred rites had as little power in arresting the progress of this 
deeply-rooted malady, as the prayers and holy services subsequent- 
ly had at the altars of the greatly revered martyr St. Vitus. 

^ Beckmann loc. cit. § 1. f. p. 465, where many otlier observations are made on this 
well-known circumstance. The priest named, is the same who is still known in the 
nursery tales of children as the Knecht Ruprecht. 

* "Das dich Sanct Veitstanz ankomme." May you be seized with St. Yitus's Dance. 
Joh. Agricola, Sybenhundert und fiinifzig Teutscher Sprichworter. Hagenau, 1537, 8. 
No. 497. p. 268. 

^ Bpangenherg (Adels-Spiegel. Mirror of Nobility, loc. cit.), in his own forcible 
manner, thus expresses himself on this subject: "It was afterwards pointed out by 
some, that these people could not have been properly baptized, or at all events, that 
their baptism was ineffectual, because they had received it from priests who shamelessly 
lived in open cohabitation with unchaste harlots. Upon this the lower classes rose in 
rebellion, and would have killed all the priests." Compare Appendix, No. I. 

* Bzovii Annal. ecclesiastic, loc. cit. 1468. 


AVe may therefore ascribe it to accident merely, and to a certain 
aversion to this demoniacal disease, which seemed to lie beyond 
the reach of human skill, that we meet with, but few and imper- 
fect notices of the St. Yitus's dance in the second half of the fif- 
teenth century. The highly-coloured descriptions of the sixteenth 
century contradict the notion that this mental plague had in any 
degree diminished in its severity, and not a single fact is to be 
found which supports the opinion, that any one of the essential symp- 
toms of the disease, not even excepting the tympany, had disap- 
peared, or that the disorder itself had become milder in its attacks. 
The physicians never, as it seems, throughout the whole of the 
fifteenth century, undertook the treatment of the dancing mania, 
which, according to the prevailing notions, appertained exclusively 
to the servants of the church. Against demoniacal disorders 
they had no remedies, and though some at first did promulgate 
the opinion, that the malady had its origin in natural circum- 
stances, such as a hot temperament, and other causes named in the 
phraseology of the schools,^ yet these opinions were the less exam- 
ined, as it did not appear worth while to divide with a jealous 
priesthood the care of a host of fanatical vagabonds and beggars. 

Sect. 5. — Physicians. 

It was not until the beginning of the sixteenth century that 
the St. Yitus's dance was made the subject of medical research, 
and stripped of its unhallowed character as a work of demons. 
This was efiected by Paracelsus, that mighty, but as yet scarcely 
comprehended, reformer of medicine, whose aim it was to with- 
draw diseases from the pale of miraculous interpositions and 
saintly influences, and explain their causes upon principles de- 
duced from his knowledge of the human frame. " We will not 
however admit that the saints have power to inflict diseases, and 
that these ought to be named after them, although many there 
are, who in their theology lay great stress on this supposition, 
ascribing them rather to God than to nature, which is but idle 
talk. "\^ e dislike such nonsensical gossip as is not supported by 
symptoms, but only by faith, a thing which is not human, 
whereon the gods themselves set no value." 

Such were the words which Paracelsus addressed to his contem- 
poraries, who were as yet incapable of appreciating doctrines of 

' See Appendix, Xos. III. and IT. 


this sort ; for the belief in enchantment still remained everywhere 
unshaken, and faith in the world of spirits still held men's minds 
in so close a bondage that thousands were, according to their own 
conviction, given up as a prey to the devil ; while at the command 
of religion as well as of law, countless piles were lighted, by the 
flames of "which human society was to be purified. 

Paracelsus divides the St. Vitus' s dance into three kinds. First, 
that which arises from imagination (Yitista, Chorea imaginativa, 
sestimativa), by which the original dancing plague is to be under- 
stood. Secondly, that which arises from sensual desires, depend- 
ing on the will (Chorea lasciva). Thirdly, that which arises from 
corporeal causes (Chorea naturalis, coacta), which, according to a 
strange notion of his own, he explained by maintaining, that in 
certain vessels which are susceptible of an internal pruriency, and 
thence produce laughter, the blood is set in commotion, in con- 
sequence of an alteration in the vital spirits, whereby involuntary 
fits of intoxicating joy, and a propensity to dance, are occasioned.^ 
To this notion he was, no doubt, led from having observed a milder 
form of St. Vitus's dance, not uncommon in his time, which was 
accompanied by involuntary laughter ; and which bore a resem- 
blance to the hysterical laughter of the moderns, except that it 
was characterized by more pleasurable sensations, and by an 
extravagant propensity to dance. There was no howling, scream- 
ing, and jumping, as in the severer form ; neither was the dis- 
position to dance by any means insuperable. Patients thus 
afiected, although they had not a complete control over their 
understandings, yet were sufficiently self-possessed, during the 
attack, to obey the directions which they received. There were 
even some among them who did not dance at all, but only felt an 
involuntary impulse to allay the internal sense of disquietude, 
which is the usual forerunner of an attack of this kind, by laughter, 
and quick walking carried to the extent of producing fatigue.'^ 
This disorder, so difierent from the original type, evidently ap- 
proximates to the modern chorea ; or rather is in perfect accordance 
with it, even to the less essential symptom of laughter. A miti- 
gation in the form of the dancing mania had thus clearly taken 
place at the commencement of the sixteenth century. 

1 Theophrasti Bombast von Hohenheym, 7 Buch in der Artzney. Von den Krank- 
heiten, die der Yernunft berauben. 7th Book on Medicine. Of the diseases which pro- 
duce insanity. Tract I. chap. 3, p. 491. Tract II. chap. 3, p. 501. Opera. Strassburg, 
1616. fol. Tom. I. 

* Chorea procursiva of the moderns. Bernt, Monographia Chorea? Sti. Yiti. Prag. 
1810. p. 25. 


On the communication of the St. Yitus's dance by sympathy, 
Paracelsus, in his peculiar language, expresses himself with great 
spirit, and shows a profound knowledge of the nature of sensual 
impressions, which find their way to the heart, — the seat of joys 
and emotions, — which overpower the opposition of reason ; and 
whilst *' all other qualities and natures " are subdued, incessantly 
impel the patient, in consequence of his original compliance, and 
his all- conquering imagination, to imitate what he has seen. On 
his treatment of the disease we cannot bestow any great praise, 
but must be content with the remark, that it was in conformity 
with the notions of the age in which he lived. For the first kind, 
which often originated in passionate excitement, he had a mental 
remedy, the efficacy of which is not to be despised, if we estimate 
its value in connexion with the prevalent opinions of those times. 
The patient was to make an image of himself in wax or resin, and 
by an efibrt of thought to concentrate all his blasphemies and sins 
in it. " Without the intervention of any other person, to set his 
whole mind and thoughts concerning these oaths in the image ;" 
and when he had succeeded in this, he was to burn the image, so 
that not a particle of it should remain.^ In all this there was no 
mention made of St. Vitus, or any of the other mediatory saints, 
which is accounted for by the circumstance, that, at this time, an 
open rebellion against the Romish Church had begun, and the 
worship of saints was by many rejected as idolatrous.^ For the 
second kind of St. Vitus's dance, arising from sensual irritation, 
with which women were far more frequently afiected than men, 

' Tkis proceeding was, however, no invention of his, but an imitation of a usual mode 
of enchantment by means of wax figures (peri cunculas). The witches made a wax 
image of the person who was to be bewitched ; and in order to torment him, they stuck 
it full of pins, or melted it before the fire. The books on magic, of the middle ages, are 
full of such things ; though the reader who may wish to obtain information on this 
subject, need not go so far back. Only eighty years since, the learned and celebrated 
Storck, of the school of Stakl, published a treatise on witchcraft, worthy of the four- 
teenth century. " Abhandlung von Kinderkrankheiten." Treatise on the Diseases of 
Children. Vol. IV. p. 228. Eisenach, 1751-8. 
The ancients were in the habit of employing wax in incantations. 
Thus Simoetha in Theocritus : 

Qg Tourov rbv Kapbv iyili ovv ^aifioi'i raKio, 
'Qq TctKoiO' vir' ipujTog 6 Mvv^ioc avriKa Ae\(ptQ. 

See Potter's A7itiquities, Vol. II. p. 251. 
and Horace — 

"Lanea et effigies erat, altera cerea." 

Lib. 1. Sat. 8. I. 30. 
Transl. note, 
2 See Agricola, loc. cit. p. 269. No. 498. 


Paracelsus recommended harsh treatment and strict fasting. He 
directed that the patients should be deprived of their liberty ; 
placed in solitary confinement, and made to sit in an uncomfort- 
able place, until their misery brought them to their senses and to 
a feeling of penitence. He then permitted them gradually to 
return to their accustomed habits. Severe corporal chastisement 
was not omitted ; but, on the other hand, angry resistance on the 
part of the patient was to be sedulously avoided, on the ground 
that it might increase his malady, or even destroy him : moreover, 
where it seemed proper, Paracelsus allayed the excitement of the 
nerves by immersion in cold water. On the treatment of the 
third kind we shall not here enlarge. It was to be effected by all 
sorts of wonderful remedies, composed of the quintessences ; and 
it would require, to render it intelligible, a more extended ex- 
position of peculiar principles than suits our present purpose. 

Sect. 6. — Decline and Termination of the Dancing Plague. 

About this time the St. Vitus's dance began to decline, so that 
milder forms of it appeared more frequently, while the severer 
cases became more rare ; and even in these, some of the important 
symptoms gradually disappeared. Paracelsus makes no mention 
of the tympanites as taking place after the attacks, although it 
may occasionally have occurred ; and Schenck von Graffenberg, a 
celebrated physician of the latter half of the sixteenth century,' 
speaks of this disease as having been frequent only in the time of 
his forefathers ; his descriptions, however, are applicable to the 
whole of that centurj^, and to the close of the fifteenth.^ The St. 
Vitus's dance attacked people of all stations, especially those who 
led a sedentary life, such as shoemakers and tailors ; but even the 
most robust peasants abandoned their labours in the fields, as if 
they were possessed by evil spirits ; and thus those affected were 
seen assembling indiscriminately, from time to time, at certain 
appointed places, and, unless prevented by the lookers-on, con- 
tinuing to dance without intermission, until their very last breath 
was expended. Their fury and extravagance of demeanour so 
completely deprived them of their senses, that many of them 
dashed their brains out against the walls and corners of buildings, 

^ Johann Schenck von Graffenb&)-g, born 1530, took his degree at Tubingen, in 1554. 
He passed tbe greater part of his life as physician to the corporation of Freiburg in the 
Breisgau, and died in 1598. 

2 J. Schenkii a Graffenberg Qih%ev\d.i\.on\ixa. raedicarum, rariarum, &c. Libri VII. 
Lugdun. 1643. fol. L. I. Obs. VIII. p. 136. 


or rushed headlong into rapid rivers, where they found a watery 
grave. Eoaring and foaming as they were, the by-standers could 
only succeed in restraining them by placing benches and chairs 
in their way, so that, by the high leaps they were thus tempted 
to take, their strenffth mio:ht be exhausted. As soon as this was 
the case, they fell as it were lifeless to the ground, and, by very 
slow degrees, again recovered their strength. Many there were 
who, even with all this exertion, had not expended the violence 
of the tempest which raged within them, but awoke with newly re- 
vived powers, and again and again mixed with the crowd of 
dancers, until at length the violent excitement of their disordered 
nerves was allayed by the great involuntary exertion of- their 
limbs ; and the mental disorder was calmed by the extreme ex- 
haustion of the body. Thus the attacks themselves were in these 
cases, as in their nature they are in all nervous complaints, neces- 
sary crises of an inward morbid condition, which was transferred 
from the sensorium to the nerves of motion, and, at an earlier 
period, to the abdominal plexus, where a deep-seated derange- 
ment of the system was perceptible from the secretion of flatus in 
the intestines. 

The cure efiected by these stormy attacks was in many cases so 
perfect, that some patients returned to the factory or the plough 
as if nothing had happened. Others, on the contrary, paid the 
penalty of their folly by so total a loss of power, that they could 
not regain their former health, even by the employment of the 
most strengthening remedies. Medical men were astonished to 
observe that women in an advanced state of pregnancy were ca- 
pable of going through an attack of the disease, without the 
slightest injury to their ofispring, which they protected merely 
by a bandage passed round the waist. Cases of this kind were 
not unfrequent so late as Schenck's time. That patients should 
be violently affected by music, and their paroxysms brought on 
and increased by it, is natural with such nervous disorders ; where 
deeper impressions are made through the ear, which is the most in- 
tellectual of all the organs, than through any one of the other senses. 
On this account the magistrates hired musicians for the purpose 
of carrying the St. Titus's dancers so much the quicker through 
the attacks, and directed, that athletic men should be sent among 
them in order to complete the exhaustion, which had been often 
observed to produce a good efiect.' At the same time there was a 

' It is related by Felix Pluter (born 1536, died 1614) that he remembered in his 


prohibition against wearing red garments, because at tlie sight of 
this colour, those affected became so furious, that they flew at the 
persons who wore it, and were so bent upon doing them an injury 
that they could with difficulty be restrained. They frequently 
tore their own clothes whilst in the paroxysm, and were guilty of 
other improprieties, so that the more opulent employed confiden- 
tial attendants to accompany them, and to take care that they did 
no harm either to themselves or others. This extraordinary dis- 
ease was, however, so greatly mitigated in Schenck's time, that 
the St. Yitus's dancers had long since ceased to stroll from town 
to town ; and that physician, like Paracelsus, makes no mention 
of the tympanitic inflation of the bowels. Moreover, most of 
those affected were only annually visited by attacks ; and the 
occasion of them was so manifestly referrible to the prevailing 
notions of that period, that if the unqualified belief in the super- 
natural agency of saints could have been abolished, they would 
not have had any return of the complaint. Throughout the whole 
of June, prior to the festival of St. John, patients felt a disquietude 
and restlessness which they were unable to overcome. They were de- 
jected, timid, and anxious ; wandered about in an unsettled state, 
being tormented with twitching pains, which seized them suddenly 
in different parts, and eagerly expected the eve of St. John's day, in 
the confident hope, that by dancing at the altars of this saint, or 
of St. Yitus (for in the Breisgau aid was equally sought from both), 
they would be freed from all their sufferings. This hope was not 
disappointed ; and they remained, for the rest of the year, exempt 
from any further attack, after having thus, by dancing and raving 
for three hours, satisfied an irresistible demand of nature. There 
were at that period two chapels in the Breisgau, visited by the 
St. Yitus's dancers; namely, the Chapel of St. Vitus at Biessen, 
near Breisach, and that of St. John, near Wasenwieler ; and it is 
probable that in the south-west of Germany the disease was still 
in existence in the seventeenth century. 

However, it grew every year more rare, so that, at the begin- 

youth the authorities of Basle having commissioned several powerful men to dance with 
a girl who had the dancing mania, till she recovered from her disorder. They success- 
ively relieved each other; and this singular mode of cure lasted ahove four weeks, 
when the patient fell down exhausted, and being quite unable to stand, was carried to 
an hospital, where she recovered. She had remained in her clothes all the time, and 
entirely regardless of the pain of her lacerated feet, she had merely sat down occasion- 
ally to take some nourishment, or to slumber, daring which the hopping movement of 
her body continued. Felic. Plateri Praxeos medicae opus. L. I. ch. 3. p. 88. Tom. I. 
Basil. 1656. 4to. Ejusd. Observation. Basil. 1641. 8. p. 92. 



ning of the seventeenth century, it was observed only occasionally 
in its ancient form. Thus in the spring of the year 1623, Gr. 
Horst saw some women who annually performed a pilgrimage to 
St. Vitus's chapel at Drefelhausen, near Wcissenstein, in the terri- 
tory of Ulm, that they might wait for their dancing fit there, in 
the same manner as those in the Breisgau did, according to 
Schenck's account. They were not satisfied, however, with a 
dance of three hours' duration, but continued day and night in a 
state of mental aberration, like persons in an ecstasy, until they 
fell exhausted to the gi'ound ; and when they came to themselves 
again, they felt relieved from a distressing uneasiness and painful 
sensation of weight in their bodies, of which they had complained 
for several weeks prior to St. Vitus's day.' 

After this commotion they remained well for the whole year ; 
and such was their faith in the protecting power of the saint, 
that one of them had visited this shrine at Drefelhausen more than 
twenty times, and another had already kept the Saint's day for 
the thirty-second time at this sacred station. 

The dancing fit itself was excited here, as it probably was in 
other places, by music, from the effects of which the patients were 
thrown into a state of convulsion.^ Many concurrent testimonies 
serve to show that music generally contributed much to the con- 
tinuance of the St. Vitus's dance, originated and increased its 
paroxysms, and was sometimes the cause of their mitigation. So 
early as the fourteenth century, the swarms of St. John's dancers 
were accompanied by minstrels playing upon noisy instruments, 
who roused their morbid feelings ; and it may readily be supjDosed 
that, by the performance of lively melodies, and the stimulating 
effects which the shrill tones of fifes and trumpets would produce, 
a paroxysm, that was perhaps but slight in itself, might, in many 
cases, be increased to the most outrageous fury, such as in later 
times was purposely induced in order that the force of the disease 
might be exhausted by the violence of its attack. Moreover, by 
means of intoxicating music a kind of demoniacal festival for the 
rude multitude was established, which had the effect of spreading 
this unhappy malady wider and wider. Soft harmony was, how- 
ever, employed to calm the excitement of those affected, and it is 
mentioned as a character of the tunes played with this view to the 

^ The 15th of June. Here therefore they did not wait till the Festival of St. John. 

- Gregor. Ilorstii Observationum mcdicinalium singularium Libri IV. priores. 
His arcessit Epistolaruiu ot Consultationum medicar. Lib. I. Ulm. 1628. 4to. Epistol. 
p. 374. 


St. Vitus's dancers, that they contained transitions from a quick 
to a slow measure, and passed gradually from a high to a low key. ' 
It is to be regretted that no trace of this music has reached our 
times, which is owing partly to the disastrous events of the seven- 
teenth century, and partly to the circumstance that the disorder 
was looked upon as entirely national, and only incidentally con- 
sidered worthy of notice by foreign men of learning. If the St. 
Vitus's dance was already on the decline at the commencement of 
the seventeenth century, the subsequent events were altogether 
adverse to its continuance. Wars carried on with animosity and 
with various success for thirty years, shook the west of Europe ; 
and although the unspeakable calamities which they brought upon 
Germany, both during their continuance and in their immediate 
consequences^ were by no means favourable to the advance of 
knowledge, yet, with the vehemence of a purifying fire, they 
gradually effected the intellectual regeneration of the Germans ; 
superstition, in her ancient form, never again appeared, and the 
belief in the dominion of spirits, which prevailed in the middle 
ages, lost for ever its once formidable power. 



Sect. 1. — Tarantism. 

It was of the utmost advantage to the St. Vitus's dancers that 
they made choice of a favourite patron saint ; for not to mention 
that people were inclined to compare them to the possessed with 
evil spirits, described in the Bible, and thence to consider them as 
innocent victims to the power of Satan, the name of their great 
intercessor recommended them to general commiseration, and a 
magic boundary was thus set to every harsh feeling which might 
otherwise have proved hostile to their safety. Other fanatics 
were not so fortunate, being often treated with the most relentless 
cruelty whenever the notions of the middle ages either excused or 
commanded it as a religious duty.^ Thus, passing over the innu- 

' Jo. Bodin. Method, historic. Amstelod. 1650. 12mo, Ch. V. p. 99. — Idem, do 
Republica. Francofurt. 1591. 8vo. Lib. V. Ch. I. p. 789. 

^ A very remarkable case, illustrative in part of this observation, where, however, not 
the person who was supposed to be the subject of the demoniacal malad}", but its alleged 
authors, v/ere punished, is thus reported bv Dr. "Watt of Glasgow: — "It occurred at 



merable instances of the burning of witches, who were, after all, 
only labouring under a delusion, the Teutonic knights in Prussia 
not un frequently condemned those maniacs to the stake who 
imagined themselves to be metamorphosed into wolves ^ — an ex- 
traordinary species of insanity, which, having existed in Greece, 
before our era, spread, in process of time, over Europe, so that it 
was communicated not only to the Romaic, but also to the German 
and Sarmatian nations, and descended from the ancients, as a 
legacy of affliction to posterity. In modern times Lycanthropy, 
such was the name given to this infatuation, has vanished from 
the earth, but it is nevertheless well worthy the consideration of 
the observer of human aberrations, and a history of it by some 

Eargarran, in Renfrewshire, in 1696. The patient's name was Christian Shaw, a girl 
of eleven years of age. She is described as having had \dolent fits of leaping, dancing, 
running, crying, fainting, &c., but the whole narrative is mixed up with so much credulity 
and superstition, that it is impossible to separate truth from fiction. These strange fits 
continued from August, 1696, till the end of March in the year following, when the 
patient recovered." An account of the whole was published at Edmburgh, in 1698, 
entitled " A true Narrative of the Suflferings of a Young Girl, who was strangely mo- 
lested by evil spirits, and their instruments, in the West, collected from authentic 

The whole being ascribed to witchcraft, the clergy were most active on the occasion. 
Besides occasional days of humiliation, two solemn fasts were observed throughout the 
whole bounds of the Presbytery, and a number of clergymen and elders were appointed 
in rotation, to be constantly on the spot. So far the matter was well enough. But 
such was the superstition of the age, that a memorial was presented to his Majesty's 
most honourable Privy Council, and on the 19tli of January, 1697, a warrant was issued, 
setting forth " that there were pregnant grounds of suspicion of witchcraft in Renfrew- 
shire, especially from the afflicted and extraordinary condition of Christian Shaw, daughter 
of John Shaw, of Bargarran." A commission was therefore granted to Alexander Lord 
Blantyre, Sir John Maxwell, Sir John Shaw, and five others, together with the sheriflT of 
the county, to inquire into the matter, and report. This commission is signed by eleven 
privy councillors, consisting of some of the first noblemen and gentlemen in the kingdom. 

The report of the commissioners having fully confirmed the suspicions respecting the 
existence of witchcraft, another warrant was issued on the .5th of April, 1697, to Lord 
Hallcraig, Sir John Houston, and four others, " to try the persons accused of witchcraft, 
and to sentence the guilty to be burned, or otherwise executed to death, as the commis- 
sion should incline." 

The commissioners, thus empowered, were not remiss in the discharge of their duty. 
After twenty hours were spent in the examination of witnesses, and counsel heard on 
both sides, the counsel for the prosecution " exhorted the jury to beware of condemning 
the innocent : hut at the same time, should they acquit the prisoners in opposition to 
legal evidence, they would be accessory to all the blasphemies, apostacies, murders, tor- 
tures, and seductions, whereof these enemies of heaven and earth should hereafter be 
guilty." After the jury had spent six hours in deliberation, seven of the miserable 
■wretches, three men and four women, were condemned to the flames, and the sentence 
faithfully executed at Paisley, on the 10th of June, 1697. — Medico- CJm-urg. Trafts. 
Vol. V. p. 20, et seq. — Transl. note. 

'- Compare jOlaus Magnus, de gentibus scptentrionalibus. Lib. XVIII. Ch. 45 — 47. 
p. 642, seq. Rom. loo.5. fol. 


writer who is equally well acquainted with the middle ages as with 
antiquity, is still a desideratum.^ We leave it for the present, 
without further notice, and turn to a malady most extraordinary 
in all its phenomena, having a close connexion with the St. Yitus's 

! ' Burton, in his Anatomy of Melancholy, has the following observations, which, with 
the ample references by which they are accompanied, will furnish materials for such a 

" Lycanthropia, which Avicenna calls cucubtith, others lupinam insaniam, or wolf- 
madness, when men run howling about graves and fields in the night, and will not be 
persuaded but that they are wolves, or some such beasts. Aetius (Lib. 6. cap. 11.) and 
Paulus (Lib. 3. cap. 16.) call it a kind of melancholy ; but I should rather refer it to 
madness, as most do. Some make a doubt of it, whether there be any such disease. 
Donat. ah Altomari (Cap. 9. Art. Med.) saith, that he saw two of them in his 'time : 
Wierus (De Pra;stig. Demonum, 1. 3. cap. 21.) tells a story of such a one at Padua, 
1541, that would not believe to the contrary but that he was a w^olf. He hath another 
instance of a Spaniard, who thought himself a bear. Forestus (Observat. lib. 10. de 
Morbis Cerebri, c. 15.) confirms as much by many examples ; one, among the rest, of 
which he was an eye-witness, at Alcmaer in Holland.— A poor husbandman that still hunt- 
ed about graves, and kept in churchyards, of a pale, black, ugly, and fearful look. Such, 
belike, or little better, were king Proetus' daughters {Hippocrates lib. de insania), that 
thought themselves kine : and Nebuchadnezzar, in Daniel, as some interpreters hold, 
Avas only troubled with this kind of madness. This disease, perhaps, gave occasion to 
that bold assertion of Pliny (Lib. 8. cap. 22. homines interdum lupos fieri; et contra), 
some men loere turned into wolves in his time, and from loolves to men again ; and to 
that fable of Pausanias, of a man that was ten years a wolf, and afterwards turned to 
his former shape; to Ovid's (Met. lib. 1.) tale of Lycaon, &c. He that is desirous to 
hear of this disease, or more examples, let him read Austin in his eighteenth book, de 
Civitate Dei, cap. 5; Mizaldus, cent. o. 77; Schenkius, lib. 1. IIildes]ieim, Spicil. 2. 
de mania ; Forestus, lib. 10. de morbis cerebri; Olaus Magnus ; Vicentius Bellavicensis, 
spec. m,et. lib. 31. c. 122 ; Pierius, Bodine, Zuinger, Zeilgur, Peucer, Wierus, Spranger, 
§c. This malady, saith Avicenna, troubleth men most in February, and is now-a-days fre- 
quent in Bohemia and Hungary, according to Heurnius. (Cap. de Man.) Schernitzius 
will have it common in Livonia. They lie hid, most part, all day, and go abroad in the 
night, barking, howling, at graves and deserts ; tliey have usually hollow eyes, scabbed 
legs and thighs, very dry and pale (Ulcerata crura ; sitis ipsis adest immodica ; pallidi ; 
lingua sicca), saith Altomarus : he gives a reason there of all the symptoms, and sets 
down a brief cure of them." — Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy. Tenth Edit. : 8vo. 
1804. Vol. I. Page 13, et seq. 

It is surprising that so learned a writer as Burton should not have alluded to Oriba- 
sius, who flourished 140 years before Aetius, and of whom Freind says, "In auctore 
hoc miri cujusdam morbi prima mentio est ; is A vicavGpujTrot; sive AvKavOpwTria dicitur, 
estque raelancholiae, aut insanire, species quaenam ita ab illo descripta : ' Quos hoc ma- 
lum infestos habet, nocturno tempore donio egressi, Lupos in omnibus rebus imitantur, 
et ad diem usque circa tumulos vagantur mortuorum. Hos ita cognosce : pallidi sunt, 
oculos hebetes et siccos, non illachrymantes,eosque concaves habent : lingua siccissima 
est, nulla penitus in ore saliva conspicitur, siti enecti ; crura vero, quia noctu seepe of- 
fendunt, sineremedio exulcerata.'— 'Quod ad morbum ipsum attinet, si peregrinantihus 
fides adhibenda est, fuit olim in quibusdam regionibus, ut in Livonia, Hibernia, et aliis 
locis visi non infrequens,' " &c. — J. Freind. Opera omnia Med. fol. London. 1733. 

De hujus morbi antiquitatibus vide elegantem Bottigeri disputationem in Sprengelii 
Beitr. z. Gesoh. d. Med. 11. p. \—io.—Blancard. Lexic. Med. Edit, noviss. 8vo. Lipsiae, 
\d,'&2.— Transl. note. 


dance, and, by a comparison of facts, wliicli are altogether similar, 
affording us an instructive subject for contemplation. We allude 
to the disease called Tarantism, which made its first appearance 
in Apulia, and thence spread over the other provinces of Italj'', 
where, during some centuries, it prevailed as a great epidemic. In 
the present times it has vanished, or at least has lost altogether 
its original importance, like the St. Vitus's dance, lycanthropy, 
and witchcraft. 

Sect. 2. — Most ancient Traces. — Causes. 

The learned Nicholas Perotti ' gives the earliest account of this 
strange disorder. Nobody had the least doubt that it was caused 
by the bite of the tarantula,-^ a ground-spider common in Apulia ; 
and the fear of this insect was so general, that its bite was in all 
probability much oftener imagined, or the sting of some other 
kind of insect mistaken for it, than actually received. The word 
tarantula is apparently the same as tcrrantola, a name given by 
the Italians to the stellio of the old Romans, which was a kind of 
lizard,* said to be poisonous, and invested by credulity with such 
extraordinary qualities, that, like the serpent of the jNIosaic ac- 
count of the Creation, it personified, in the imaginations of the vul- 
gar, the notion of cunning, so that even the jurists designated a 

' Born 1430, died 1480. Cornucopise latinfe linguse. Basil. 1536. fol. Commeut. in 
primuni Martialis Epigramma, p. 51, 52. " Est et alius stellio ex araneorum genere, 
qui, simili modo, ascalabotes a Greecis dicitur, et colotes et galeotcs, lentigiuosus in 
cavernulis dehiscentibus, per sestum terrse habitans. Ilic majorum nostrorum tem- 
poribus in Italia visus non fuit, nunc frequens in Apulia visitur. Aliquando etiam in 
Tarquinensi et Corniculano agro, et vulgo similiter tarantula vocatur. Morsus ejus per- 
raro interemit bominem, semistupidum tamen facit, et varie afficit, tarantulam vulgo 
appellant. Quidam cantu audita, aut sono, ita excitantur, ut pleni Icetitia et semper 
ridetites saltent, nee nisi defatigati et semineces desistant. Alii semper flentes, quasi 
desiderio suorum miserabilcm vitam agant. Alii visa muliere, libidinis statim ardore 
incensi, veluti furentes in earn prosiliant. Quidam ridendo, quidam flendo moriantur." 

' Lycosa Tarantula. 

3 Tbe Aranea Tarantula of Linnwns, who, after the technical description, says, 
" Habitat in Europa australi, potissimum Apulia, in Barbaria, in Tauria, Russia^que 
australis desertis, in Astracania ad niontes Sibiria Altaicos usque, in Persia et reliquo 
Oriente, in solo praesertim argillaceo in antris, morsu quamvis interdum dolente, olimque 
faraosum tarantisnium musica sanandum excitare credito, vix unquam periculoso, cine- 
rasccns, oculis duobus prioribus nibris, thorace in areas nigras diviso in centrum concur- 
rentes, abdomine supra fasciis maxillisque nigris." — Systema Katurce. Tom. I. pars v. 
p. 2956. 

For particulars regarding the habits of the Lycosae, see Griffith's Transl. of Cuvier's 
Animal Kingdom. Vol. XIII. p. 427 and p. 480. et seq. The author states that M. 
Chabrier has published (Soc. Acad, de Lille 4* cahier) some curious observations on the 
Lycosa tarantula of the south of France. — Transl. note. 

•* Matthiol. Commentar. in Dioscorid. L. IT. eh. 5f». p. 363. Ed. Yenet. 1565. fol. 


cunning fraud by the appellation of a " stellionatus."' Perotti 
expressly assures us that this reptile was called by the Romans 
tarantula ; and since he himself, who was one of the most distin- 
guished authors of his time, strangely confounds spiders and 
lizards together, so that he considers the Apulian tarantula, which 
he ranks among the class of spiders, to have the same meaning as 
the kind of lizard called d(rKa\a(3u)rr]g,^ it is the less extraordinary 
that the unlearned country people of Apulia should confound the 
much dreaded ground-spider with the fabulous star-lizard,^ and 
appropriate to the one the name of the other. The derivation of 
the word tarantula, from the city of Tarentum, or the river Thara, 
in Apulia,* on the banks of which this insect is said to have been 
most frequently found, or at least its bite to have had the most 
venomous effect, seems not to be supported by authority. So much 
for the name of this famous spider, which, unless we are greatly 
mistaken, throws no light whatever upon the nature of the disease 
in question. Naturalists who, possessing a knowledge of the past, 
should not misapply their talents by employing them in establish- 
ing the dry distinction of forms, would find here much that calls 
for research, and their efforts would clear up many a perplexing ob- 

Perotti states that the tarantula, that is, the spider so called, 
was not met with in Italy in former times, but that in his day 
it had become common, especially in Apulia, as well as in some 
other districts. He deserves, however, no great confidence as a 
naturalist, notwithstanding his having delivered lectures in Bo- 
logna on medicine and other sciences.^ He at least has neglected 
to prove his assertion, which is not borne out by any analogous 
phenomenon observed in modern times with regard to the history 
of the spider species. It is by no means to be admitted that the 
tarantula did not make its appearance in Italy before the disease 
ascribed to its bite became remarkable, even though tempests 
more violent than those unexampled storms which arose at the 
time of the Black Death ^ in the middle of the fourteenth century 
had set the insect world in motion ; for the spider is little, if at 

1 Perotti, loc. cit. 

2 Probably Lacerta Gecko, as also the synonymes, KwXwTrjg and yaXtwrrig, quoted by 

* Lacerta Stellio. It need scarcely be observed that the venomous nature of this 
harmless creature was a pure invention of Roman superstition. 

* See Athan. Kircher. loc. cit. 

5 From 1451—1458. Tiraboschi. VI. 11. p. 356. « See p. 11, et seq. 


all, susceptible of those cosmical influences which at times mul- 
tiply locusts and other winged insects to a wonderful extent, and 
compel them to migrate. 

The symptoms which Perotti enumerates as consequent on the 
bite of the tarantula agree very exactly with those described by 
later writers. Those who were bitten generally fell into a state 
of melancholy, and appeared to be stupified, and scarcely in pos- 
session of their senses. This condition was, in many cases, united 
with so great a sensibility to music, that, at the very first tones 
of their favourite melodies, they sprang up, shouting for joy, and 
danced on without intermission, until they sank to the ground ex- 
hausted and almost lifeless. In others the disease did not take 
this cheerful turn. They wept constantly, and as if pining away 
with some unsatisfied desire, spent their days in the greatest misery 
and anxiety. Others, again, in morbid fits of love cast their longing 
looks on women, and instances of death are recorded, which are said 
to have occurred under a paroxysm of either laughing or weeping. 

From this description, incomplete as it is, we may easily gather 
that tarantism, the essential symptoms of which are mentioned in 
it, could not have originated in the fifteenth century, to which 
Perotti's account refers ; for that author speaks of it as a well- 
known malady, and states that the omission to notice it by older 
writers, was to be ascribed solely to the want of education in 
•Apulia, the only province probably where the disease at that time 
prevailed. A nervous disorder that had arrived at so high a de- 
gree of development, must have been long in existence, and doubt- 
less had required an elaborate preparation by the concurrence of 
general causes. 

The symptoms which followed the bite of venomous spiders were 
well known to the ancients, and had excited the attention of their 
best observers, who agree in their descriptions of them, it is 
probable that among the numerous species of their phalangium,' 
the Apulian tarantula is included, but it is difiicult to determine 
this point with certainty, more especially, because in Ital}^ the 
tarantula was not the only insect which caused this nervous 
affection, similar results being likewise attributed to the bite of the 
scorpion. Lividity of the whole body as well as of the coun- 

' A'etius, who wrote at the eud of the sixth century, mentions six which occur in the 
older works. 1. payiov, 2. X'ikoq, 3. (ivQfiI}Kitov, 4. KpavoKoXaTrrrfg, by others, 
Kt(pa\oxpov<TT7]Q, 5. ffK\r]poK£(paKov, and 6. oKdiKifKiov. Tetrabl. lY. Serm. I. ch. 18. 
in Hen. Sfeph. Compare Dioscorid. Lib. VI. ch. 42. Matthiol. Commentar. in Dios- 
corid. p. 1417. Xicand. Theriae. V. 8. 715, "55. 654. 


tenance, difficulty of speech, tremor of the limbs, icy coldness, 
pale urine, depression of spirits, head-ache, a flow of tears, nausea, 
vomiting, sexual excitement, lEatulence, syncope, dysuria, watch- 
fulness, lethargy, even death itself, were cited by them as the con- 
sequences of being bitten by venomous spiders, and they made 
little distinction as to their kinds. To these symptoms we may 
add the strange rumour, repeated throughout the middle ages, 
that persons who were bitten, ejected by the bowels and kidneys, 
and even by vomiting, substances resembling a spider's web. 

Nowhere, however, do we find any mention made that those 
affected felt an irresistible propensity to dancing, or that they 
were accidentally cured by it. Even Constantine of Africa, who 
lived 500 years after Aetius, and as the most learned physician of 
the school of Salerno, would certainly not have passed over so 
acceptable a subject of remark, knows nothing of such a memor- 
able course of this disease arising from poison, and merely repeats 
the observations of his Greek predecessors.^ Gariopontus,^ a 
Salernian physician of the eleventh century, was the first to de- 
scribe a kind of insanity, the remote affinity of which to the 
tarantula disease is rendered apparent by a very striking symptom. 
The patients in their sudden attacks behaved like maniacs, sprang 
up, throwing their arms about with wild movements, and, if per- 
chance a sword was at hand, they wounded themselves and others, 
so that it became necessary carefully to secure them. They 
imagined that they heard voices, and various kinds of sounds, and 
if, during this state of illusion, the tones of a favourite instru- 
ment happened to catch their ear, they commenced a spasmodic 
dance, or ran with the utmost energy which they could muster, 
until they were totally exhausted. These dangerous maniacs, 
who, it would seem, appeared in considerable numbers, were 
looked upon as a legion of devils, but on the causes of their malady 
this obscure writer adds nothing further than that he believes 
(oddly enough) that it may sometimes be excited by the bite of a 
mad dog. He calls the disease Anteneasmus, by which is meant 

1 Aranearum multse species sunt. Quae ubi mordent, faciunt multum dolorem, 
ruborem, frigidum sudorem, et citrinum colorem. Aliquando quasi strangurise in urina 
duritiem, et virgaB extensionem, inti-a inguina, et genua, tetinositatem in stomacho. 
Linguae extensionem, ut eorum sermo non possit discerni. Vomtmt humiditatem quasi 
aranece telam, et ventris emoUitionem similiter, &c. De communibus medico cognitu 
necessariis locis. Lib. Ylll. cap. 22. p. 235. Basil. 1539. fol. 

- He lived in the middle of the eleventh century, and was a junior contemporary with 
Constantine of Africa. J. Chr. Gottl. Acker7nann, Regimen sanitatis Salerni sive 
Scholse Salernitanse de conservanda bona valetudine prsecepta. Stendal. 1790. 8vo. p. 38. 


no doubt the Enthusiasmus of the Greek physicians.' We cite 
this phenomenon as an important forerunner of tarantism, under 
the conviction that we have thus added to the evidence that the 
development of this hitter must have been founded on circum- 
stances which existed from the twelfth to the end of the fourteenth 
century ; for the origin of tarantism itself is referrible, with the 
utmost probability, to a period between the middle and the end of 
this century, and is consequently contemporaneous with that of the 
St. Yitus's dance (1374). The influence of the Roman Catholic 
religion, connected as this was, in the middle ages, with the pomp 
of processions, with public exercises of penance, and with innu- 
merable practices which strongly excited the imaginations of its 
votaries, certainly brought the mind to a very favourable state for 
the reception of a nervous disorder. Accordingly, so long as the 
doctrines of Christianity were blended with so much mysticism, 
these unhallowed disorders prevailed to an important extent, and 
even in our own days we find them propagated with the greatest 
facility where the existence of superstition produces the same effect 
in more limited districts, as it once did among whole nations. But 
this is not all. Every country in Europe, and Italy perhaps more 
than any other, was visited during the middle ages by frightful 
plagues, which followed each other in such quick succession, that 
they gave the exhausted people scarcely any time for recovery. 
The oriental bubo-plague ravaged Italy ^ sixteen times between the 
years 1119 and 1340. Small-pox and measles were still more 
destructive than in modern times, and recurred as frequently. St. 
Anthony's fire was the dread of town and country ; and that dis- 
o-ustino- disease, the leprosy, which, in consequence of the crusades, 
spread its insinuating poison in all directions, snatched from the 

' The passage is as follows : " Anteneasmon est species maniiB periculosa nimium. 
Irritantur tanqiiam maniaci, et in se raanus injiciunt. Hi subito arripiuntur, cum sal- 
tatione manuum et pedum, quia intra aurium cnvernas quasi voces diversas so7iare falso 
audiunt, ut sunt dipersorum instrumentorum musicte soni ; quibus delectantur, ut statim 
saltent, aut cursum velocem arripiant ; subito arripieiites is:ladiura percutiunt se aut 
alios: morsibus se et alios attrectare non diibitant. Hos Latini percussores, alii dicunt 
dcemonis legiones esse, ut dum eos arripiunt, vexent et vulnerent. Diligentia eis im- 
ponenda est, quando istos sonos audierint, includantur, et post accessionis horas phle- 
botomentur, et venter eis moveatur. Cibos leves accipiant cum calida aqua, ut omnis 
ventositas, quae in cerebro sonum facit, egeratur. In ipsa accessione silentium habeant. 
Quod si spumam per os ejecerint, vel ex canis rabidi morsu causa fuerit, intra septem 
dies moriuntur." Gario2)onti, medici vetustissirai, de morborura causis, accidentibus et 
curationibus. Libri VIII. Basil. 1536. 8vo. L. I. eh. 2. p. 27. 

"^ J. P. Papon. De la peste, ou los epoques memorables de ce fleau. Paris, an 8. 
Svo. Tome II. page 270. (1119. 1126. 1135. 1193. 1225. 1227. 1231. 1234. 1243. 
1254. 1288. 1301. 1311. 1316. 1335. 1-340.) 


paternal hearth innumerable victims who, banished from human 
society, pined away in lonely huts, whither they were accompanied 
only by the pity of the benevolent and their own despair. All 
these calamities, of which the moderns haA^e scarcely retained any 
recollection, were heightened to an incredible degree by the Black 
Death, ^ which spread boundless devastation and misery over Italy. 
Men's minds were everywhere morbidly sensitive ; and as it hap- 
pens with individuals whose senses, when they are suffering under 
anxiety, become more irritable, so that trifles are magnified into 
objects of great alarm, and slight shocks, which would scarcely 
affect the spirits when in health, give rise in them to severe dis- 
eases, so was it with this whole nation, at all times so alive to 
emotions, and at that period so sorely pressed with the horrors of 

The bite of venomous spiders, or rather the unreasonable fear 
of its consequences, excited at such a juncture, though it could not 
have done so at an earlier period, a violent nervous disorder, which, 
like St. Vitus's dance in Germany, spread by sympathy, increas- 
ing in severity as it took a wider range, and still further extend- 
ing its ravages from its long continuance. Thus, from the middle of 
the fourteenth centurj'', the furies of the Dance brandished their 
scourge over afflicted mortals ; and music, for which the inha- 
bitants of Italy, now probably for the first time, manifested sus- 
ceptibility and talent, became capable of exciting ecstatic attacks 
in those affected, and then furnished the magical means of exor- 
cising their melancholy. 

Sect. 3. — Increase. 

At tbe close of the fifteenth century we find that Tarantism had 
spread beyond th.e boundaries of Apulia, and that the fear of being 
bitten by venomous spiders had increased. Nothing short of 
death itself was expected from the wound which these insects in- 
flicted, and if those who were bitten escaped with their lives, 
they were said to be seen pining away in a desponding state of 
lassitude. Many became weak-sighted or hard of hearing, some 
lost the power of speech, and all were insensible to ordinary causes 
of excitement, Nothing but the flute or the cithern afforded them 
relief.'^ At the sound of these instruments they awoke as it were 

1 1347 to 1350. 

2 Atha7iasius Kircher gives a full account of the instruments then in use, which 
differed very slightly from those of our days. Musurgia universalis, sive Ars magna 
con;oni et dissoni. Romse, 1650, fol. Tom. I. p. 477. 


by enchantment, opened their eyes, and moving slowly at first, 
according to the measure of the music, were, as the time quicken- 
ed, gradually hurried on to the most passionate dance. It was 
generally observable that country people, who were rude, and 
ignorant of music, evinced on these occasions an unusual degree 
of grace, as if they had been well practised in elegant movements 
of the body ; for it is a peculiarity in nervous disorders of this 
kind, that the organs of motion are in an altered condition, and 
are completely under the control of the overstrained spirits. 
Cities and villages alike resounded throughout the summer season 
with the notes of fifes, clarinets, and Turkish drums ; and patients 
Avhere everywhere to be met with who looked to dancing as their 
only remedy. Alexander ab Alexandre,^ who gives this account, 
saw a young man in a remote village who was seized with a vio- 
lent attack of Tarantism. He listened with eagerness and a fixed 
stare to the sound of a drum, and his graceful movements gradu- 
ally became more and more violent, until his dancing was convert- 
ed into a succession of frantic leaps, which required the utmost 
exertion of his whole strength. In the midst of this overstrained 
exertion of mind and body the music suddenly ceased, and he im- 
mediately fell powerless to the ground, where he lay senseless and 
motionless until its magical effect again aroused him to a renewal 
of his impassioned performances. 

At the period of which we are treating there was a general con- 
viction, that by music and dancing the poison of the Tarantula 
was distributed over the whole body, and expelled through the 
skin, but that if there remained the slightest vestige of it in the 
vessels, this became a permanent germ of the disorder, so that the 
dancing fits might again and again be excited ad injinitum by 
music. This belief, which resembled the delusion of those insane 
persons who, being by artful management freed from the imagined 
causes of their sufferings, are but for a short time released from 
their false notions, was attended with the most injurious effects: 
for in consequence of it those affected necessarily became by de- 
grees convinced of the incurable nature of their disorder. They 
expected relief, indeed, but not a cure, from music ; and when the 
heat of summer awakened a recollection of the dancers of the pre- 
ceding year, they, like the St. Vitus's dancers of the same period 

' Genialiura dierum Libri VI. Lugdun. Bat. 1673. 8vo. Lib. IT. ch. 17. p. 398. 
Alex, ab Alexandra, a distinguished Neapolitan lawyer, lived from 1461 to 1523. The 
historian Gaudentius Merula, who became celebrated about 1536, makes only a very 
slight mention of the Tarantism. Memorabilium Gaud. Merula Novariensis opus, &c. 
Lug.lun. 1656. 8vo. L. III. ch. 69. p. 251. 


before St. Yitus's day, again grew dejected and misanthropic, un- 
til, by music and dancing, they dispelled the melancholy which 
had become with them a kind of sensual enjoyment. 

Under such favourable circumstances it is clear that -Tarantism 
must every year have made further progress. The number of 
those affected by it increased beyond all belief, for whoever had 
either actually been, or even fancied that he had been, once bitten 
by a poisonous spider or scorpion, made his appearance annually 
wherever the merry notes of the Tarantella resounded. Inquisitive 
females joined the throng and caught the disease, not indeed from 
the poison of the spider, but from the mental poison which they 
eagerly received through the eye ; and thus the cure of the Ta- 
rantati gradually became established as a regular festival of the 
populace, which was anticipated with impatient delight. 

Without attributing more to deception and fraud than to the 
peculiar nature of a progressive mental malady, it may readily bo 
conceived that the cases of this strange disorder now grew more 
frequent. The celebrated Matthioli,^ who is worthy of entire con- 
fidence, gives his account as an eye-witness. He saw the same 
extraordinary effects produced by music as Alexandre, for, how- 
ever tortured with pain, however hopeless of relief the patients 
appeared, as they lay stretched on the couch of sickness, at the 
very first sounds of those melodies which had made an impression 
on them — bvit this was the case only with the Tarantellas com- 
posed expressly for the purpose — they sprang up as if inspired 
with new life and spirit, and, unmindful of their disorder, began 
to move in measured gestures, dancing for hours together without 
fatigue, until, covered with a kindly perspiration, they felt a salu- 
tary degree of lassitude, which relieved them for a time at least, 
perhaps even for a whole year, from their dejection and oppressive 
feeling of general indisposition. Alexandro's experience of the 
injurious effects resulting from a sudden cessation of the music 
was generally confirmed by Matthioli. If the clarinets and drums 
ceased for a single moment, which, as the most skilful players 
were tired out by the patients, could not but happen occasionally, 
they suffered their limbs to fall listless, again sank exhausted to the 
ground, and could find no solace but in a renewal of the dance. 
On this account care was taken to continue the music until ex- 
haustion was produced ; for it was better to pay a few extra 
musicians, who might relieve each other, than to permit the pa- 

^ Petr. And. Matthioli Commentarii in Dioscorid. Venet. 1565. fol. Lib. II. ch. 57. 
p. 362. 


tieut, in the midst of this curative exercise, to relapse into so de- 
plorable a state of suffering. The attack consequent upon the bite 
of the Tarantula, Matthioli describes as varying much in its man- 
ner. Some became morbidly exhilarated, so that they remained 
for a long while without sleep, laughing, dancing, and singing in 
a state of the greatest excitement. Others, on the contrary, were 
drowsy. The generalit)' felt nausea and suffered from vomiting, 
and some had constant ti'emors. Complete mania was no uncom- 
mon occurrence, not to mention the usual dejection of spirits and. 
otlier subordinate symptoms. 

Sect. 4. — Idiosyncracies, — Music. 

Unaccountable emotions, strange desires, and morbid sensual 
irritations of all kinds, were as prevalent as in the St. Vitus's dance 
and similar great nervous maladies. So late as the sixteenth 
century patients were seen armed with glittering swords which, 
during the attack, they brandished with wild gestures, as if they 
were going to engage in a fencing match. • Even women scorned 
all female delicacy "' and, adopting this impassioned demeanour, 
did the same ; and this phenomenon, as well as the excitement 
which the Tarantula dancers felt at the sight of anything with 
metallic lustre, was quite common up to the period when, in mo- 
dern times, the disease disappeared.^ 

The abhorrence of certain colours and the agreeable sensations 
produced by others, were much more marked among the excitable 
Italians than was the case in the St. Vitus's dance with the more 
phlegmatic Germans. Red colours, which the St. Vitus's dancers 
detested, they generally liked, so that a patient was seldom seen 
who did not carry a red handkerchief for his gratification, or 
greedily feast his eyes on any articles of red clothing worn by the 
by-standers. Some preferred yellow, others black colours, of 
which an explanation was sought, according to the prevailing no- 
tions of the times, in the difference of temperaments.* Others 

1 Aihanas. Kircher. Magnes sive de Arte magnetica Opus. Rom. 1654. fol. p. 589. 

2 Joaiin. Juvenis de antiquitato et varia Tarentinorum fortuna Lib. YIII. Neapol. 
1589. fol. Lib. II. ch. 17- p. 107. With the exception of the statement quoted, Jtivenis 
has borrowed almost everything from Matthioli. 

' Simon. Alloys. Tudecius, physician to Queen Christine, saw a case of this kind in 
July, 1656. Bonet. Medicina scptentrionalis collatit. Genev. 1684. fol. 

* Epiphan. Ferdinand. Centum historine seu observationes ct casus mcdici. Venet. 
1621. fol. Hist. LXXXI. p. 259. Ferdinando, a physician in Messapia at the com- 
mencement of the seventeenth century, has collected, with much diligence, the various 
statements respecting the Tarantism of his time. He "was himself an eye-witness of 
it " (p. 265), and is by far the most copious of all the old writers on this subject. 


again were enraptured with green ; and eye-witnesses describe 
this rage for colours as so extraordinary, that they can scarcely 
find words with which to express their astonishment. No sooner 
did the patients obtain a sight of the favourite colour than, new 
as the impression was, they rushed like infuriated animals towards 
the object, devoured it with their eager looks, kissed and caressed 
it in every possible way, and gradually resigning themselves to 
softer sensations, adopted the languishing expression of enamoured 
lovers, and embraced the handkerchief, or whatever other article 
it might be, which was presented to them, with the most intense 
ardour, while the tears streamed from their eyes as if they were com- 
pletely overwhelmed by the inebriating impression on their senses. 

The dancing fits of a certain Capuchin friar in Tarentum ex- 
cited so much curiosity, that Cardinal Cajetano proceeded to the 
monastery, that he might see with his own eyes what was going 
on. As soon as the monk, who was in the midst of his dance, per- 
ceived the spiritual prince clothed in his red garments, he no 
longer listened to the Tarantella of the musicians, but with strange 
gestures endeavoured to approach the Cardinal, as if he wished to 
count the very threads of his scarlet robe, and to allay his intense 
longing by its odour. The interference of the spectators, and his 
own respect, prevented his touching it, and thus the irritation of 
his senses not being appeased, he fell into a state of such anguish 
and disquietude, that he presently sank down in a swoon, from which 
he did not recover until the Cardinal compassionately gave him 
his cape. This he immediately seized in the greatest ecstasy, and 
pressed n6w to his breast, now to his forehead and cheeks, and 
then again commenced his dance as if in the frenzy of a love fit.^ 

At the sight of colours which they disliked, patients flew into 
the most violent rage, and, like the St. Yitus's dancers when they 
saw red objects, could scarcely be restrained from tearing the 
clothes of those spectators who raised in them such disagreeable 

Another no less extraordinary symptom was the ardent longing 
for the sea which the patients evinced. As the St. John's dancers 
of the fourteenth century saw, in the spirit, the heavens open and 
display all the splendour of the saints, so did those who were 
sufiering under the bite of the Tarantula feel themselves attracted 
to the boundless expanse of the blue ocean, and lost themselves 
in its contemplation. Some songs, which are still preserved, 

' Kircher, loc. cit. pp. 588, 589. ' Ferdinand, p. 259. 


marked this peculiar longing, which was moreover expressed by 
significant music, and was excited even by the bare mention of 
the sea.' Some, in whom this susceptibility was carried to the 
greatest pitch, cast themselves with blind fury into the blue 
waves,'^ as the St. Yitus's dancers occasionally did into rapid rivers. 
This condition, so opposite to the frightful state of hydrophobia, 
betrayed itself in others only in the pleasure afforded them by the 
sight of clear water in glasses. These they bore in their hands 
while dancing, exhibiting at the same time strange movements, 
and giving way to the most extravagant expressions of their feel- 
ings. They delighted also when, in the midst of the space allot- 
ted for this exercise, more ample vessels, filled with water, and 
surrounded by rushes and water plants, were placed, in which 
they bathed their heads and arms with evident pleasure.^ Others 
there were who rolled about on the ground, and were, by their 
own desire, buried up to the neck in the earth, in order to allevi- 
ate the misery of their condition, not to mention an endless variety 
of other symptoms which showed the perverted action of the 

All these modes of relief, however, were as nothing in compari- 
son with the irresistible charms of musical sound. Attempts had 
indeed been made in ancient times to mitigate the pain of sciatica,'* 
or the paroxysms of mania,'^ by the soft melody of the flute, and, 
what is still more applicable to the present purpose, to remove 
the danger arising from the bite of vipers " by the same means. 
This, however, was tried only to a very small extent. But after 
being bitten by the Tarantula, there was, according to popular 
opinion, no way of saving life except by music, and it was hardly 
considered as an exception to the general rule, that every now and 
then the bad effects of a wound were prevented by placing a 

1 For example : — 

" Allu mari mi portati 
Se voleti che mi sanati. 
Allu mari, alia via : 
Cosi m'ama la donna mia. 
Allu mari allu mari : 
Mentre campo, t'a.^gio amari." 

Kircher, loc. cit. p. 592. — Appendix, No. V. 

2 Ferdinand, loc. cit. p. 257. 

3 Kircher, p. 589. 

* riln. Hist. Nat. Lib. XXVIII. ch. 2. p. 447. Ed. Hard. 
^ Cael. Aurelian. Chron. Lib. I. ch. 5. p. 335. Ed. Ainman. 
" Democriiics and Theophrastus made mention of it. See Gell. Noct. Attic. Lib. 
IV. ch. 13. 


ligature on the bitten limb, or by internal medicine, or that strong 
persons occasionally withstood the effects of the poison, without 
the employment of any remedies at all.' It was much more com- 
mon, and is quite in accordance with the nature of so exquisite a 
nervous disease, to hear accounts of many who, when bitten by the 
Tarantula, perished miserably because the Tarantella, which would 
have afforded them deliverance, was not played to them.^ It was 
customary, therefore, so early as the commencement of the seven- 
teenth century, for whole bands of musicians to traverse Italy 
during the summer months, and, what is quite unexampled either 
in ancient or modern times, the cure of the Tarantati in the 
• different towns and callages was undertaken on a grand scale. This 
season of dancing and music was called " the women's little car- 
nival," ^ for it was women more especially who conducted the 
arrangements ; so that throughout the whole country they saved 
up their spare money, for the purpose of rewarding the welcome 
musicians, and many of them neglected their household employ- 
ments to participate in this festival of the sick. Mention is even 
made of one benevolent lady (Mita Lupa) who had expended her 
whole fortune on this object.* 

The music itself was of a kind perfectly adapted to the nature 
of the malady, and it made so deep an impression on the Italians, 
that even to the present time, long since the extinction of the 
disorder, they have retained the Tarantella, as a particular species 
. of music employed for quick lively dancing. The different kinds 
of Tarantella were distinguished, very significantl}', by particular 
names, which had reference to the moods observed in the patients. 
Whence it appears that they aimed at representing by these tunes, 
even the idiosyncracies of the mind as expressed in the counte- 
nance. Thus there was one kind of Tarantella which was called 
" Panno rosso," a very lively impassioned style of music, to which 
wild dithyrambic songs were adapted; another, called ''Panno 
verde," which was suited to the milder excitement of the senses, 
caused by green colours, and set to Idyllian songs of verdant fields 
and shady groves. A third was named " Cinque tempi : " a fourth 
"Moresca," which was played to a Moorish dance; a fifth," Catena?" 
and a sixth, with a very appropriate designation, " Spallata," 
as if it were only fit to be played to dancers who were lame in 

^ Ferdinand, p. 260. 

- Bagliv. loc. clt. p. 618. From more decided statements, however, we learn, that 
of those who had been bitten only one or two in a thousand died. Ferdinand, p. 25-5. 
^ II carnevaletto delle donne. Bagliv. p. 617. 
* Ferdina7id. pp. 254. 260. 


the shoulder. This was the slowest and least in vogue of all.* 
For those who loved water they took care to select love songs, 
which were sung to corresponding music, and such persons de- 
lighted in hearing of gushing springs and rushing cascades and 
streams.'^ It is to be regretted that on this subject we are unable 
to give any further information, for only small fragments of songs, 
and a very few Tarantellas, have been preserved which belong to 
a period so remote as the beginning of the seventeenth, or at 
furthest the end of the sixteenth, century.^ 

The music was almost wholly in the Turkish style (aria Tur- 
chesca), and the ancient songs of the peasantry of Apulia, which 
increased in number annually, were well suited to the abrupt and 
lively notes of the Turkish drum and the shepherd's pipe. These 
two instruments were the favourites in the country, but others of 
all kinds were played in towns and villages, as an accompaniment 
to the dances of the patients and the songs of the spectators. If 
any particular melody was disliked by those affected, they indi- 
cated their displeasure by violent gestures expressive of aversion. 
They could not endure false notes, and it is remarkable that un- 
educated boors, who had never in their lives manifested any per- 
ception of the enchanting power of harmony, acquired, in this re- 
spect, an extremely refined sense of hearing, as if they had been 
initiated into the profoundest secrets of the musical art.* It was 
a matter of every day's experience, that patients showed a predi- 
lection for certain Tarantellas, in preference to others, which gave 
rise to the composition of a great variety of these dances. They 
were likewise very capricious in their partialities for particular 
instruments ; so that some longed for the shrill notes of the trum- 
pet, others for the softest music produced by the vibration of 

Tarantism was at its greatest height in Italy in the seventeenth 
century, long after the St. Yitus's Dance of Germany had dis- 
appeared. Is was not the natives of the country only who were 
attacked by this complaint. Foreigners of every colour and of every 
race, negroes, gipsies, Spaniards, Albanians, were in like manner 
affected by it.*" Against the effects produced by the Tarantula's 
bite, or by the sight of the sufferers, neither youth nor age afforded 

' Ferdinand, p. 259. Slow music made the Tarantel dancers feel as if they were 
crushed: spezzati, minuzzati, p. 260. 

2 A. Kircher, loc. cit. 3 ggc Appendix, Xo. V. 

* Bacjliv. loc. cit. p. 623. s A. Kircher, loc. cit. 

* Ferdinand, p. 262. 


any protection ; so that even old men of ninety threw aside their 
crutches at the sound of the Tarantella, and, as if some magic 
potion, restorative of youth and vigour, were flowing through 
their veins, joined the most extravagant dancers.^ Ferdinando 
saw a boy five years old seized with the dancing mania,' in conse- 
quence of the bite of a tarantula ; and, what is almost past belief, 
were it not supported by the testimony of so credible an eye-wit- 
ness, even deaf people were not exempt from this disorder, so potent 
in its effect was the very sight of those affected, even without the 
exhilarating emotions caused by music.^ 

Subordinate nervous attacks were much more frequent during 
this century than at any former period, and an extraordinary icy 
coldness was observed in those who were the subjects of them ; so 
that they did not recover their natural heat until they had engaged 
in violent dancing.'* Their anguish and sense of oppression forced 
from them a cold perspiration ; the secretion from the kidneys was 
pale,^ and they had so great a dislike to everything cold, that 
when water was offered them they pushed it away with abhorrence. 
AVine, on the contrary, they all drank willingly, without being 
heated by it, or in the slightest degree intoxicated.^ During the 
whole period of the attack they suffered from spasms in the 
stomach, and felt a disinclination to take food of any kind. They 
used to abstain some time before the expected seizures from meat 
and from snails, which they thought rendered them more severe,^ 
and their great thirst for wine may, therefore, in some measure, be 
attributable to the want of a more nutritious diet ; yet the dis- 
order of the nerves was evidently its chief cause, and the loss of 
appetite, as well as the necessity for support by wine, were its 
effects. Loss of voice, occasional blindness,^ vertigo, complete 
insanity, with sleeplessness, frequent weeping without any osten- 
•sible cause, were all usual symptoms. Many patients found relief 
from being placed in swings or rocked in cradles ;^ others re- 
quired to be roused from their state of suffering by severe blows 
on the soles of their feet ; others beat themselves, without any in- 
tention of making a display, but solely for the purpose of allaying 
the intense nervous irritation which they felt ; and a considerable 
number were seen with their bellies swollen,^'' like those of the St. 

1 This is said of an old man of Avetrano, who was ninety-four years of age. pp. 
254. 257. - Idem, p. 261. 

' Ferdinando saw a man who was hard of hearing listen with great eagerness during 
the dance, and endeavour to approach the drums and fifes as nearly as possible. P. 258. 

1 Idem, p. 260. » Idem, p. 256. « i(Jem, p. 260. ^ Idem, p. 261. 

s Idem, p. 256. ^ Idem, p. 258. 'o Idem, p. 257. 



John's dancers, while the violence of the intestinal disorder was 
indicated in others by obstinate constipation or diarrhoea and 
vomiting.* These pitiable objects gradually lost their strength 
and their colour, and creeping about with injected eyes, jaundiced 
complexions, and inflated bowels, soon fell into a state of profound 
melanchol}', which found food and solace in the solemn tolling of 
the funeral bell, and in an abode among the tombs of cemeteries, 
as is related of the Lycanthropes of former times. 

The persuasion of the inevitable consequences of being bitten 
by the tarantula, exercised a dominion over men's minds which 
even the healthiest and strongest could not shake off. So late as 
the middle of the sixteenth century, the celebrated Fracastoro found 
the robust bailiff of his landed estate groaning, and, with the aspect 
of a person in the extremity of despair, suffering the very agonies 
of death, from a sting in the neck, inflicted by an insect which 
was believed to be a tarantula. He kindly administered, without 
delay, a potion of vinegar and Armenian bole, the great remedy 
of those days for the plague and all kinds of animal poisons, and 
the dying man was, as if by a miracle, restored to life and the 
power of speech. 2 Now, since it is quite out of the question that 
the bole could have anything to do with the result in this case, 
notwithstanding Fracastoro's belief in its virtues, we can only 
account for the cure by supposing, that a confidence in so great a 
physician prevailed over this fatal disease of the imagination, 
which would otherwise have yielded to scarcely any other remedy 
except the tarantella. Ferdinando was acquainted with women 
who, for thirty years in succession, had overcome the attacks of 
this disorder by a renewal of their annual dance — so long did they 
maintain their belief in the yet undestroyed poison of the taran- 
tula's bite, and so long did that mental affection continue to exist, 
after it had ceased to depend on any corporeal excitement.^ 

Wherever we turn we find that this morbid state of mind pre- 
vailed, and was so supported by the opinions of the age, that it 
needed only a stimulus in the bite of the tarantula, and the sup- 
posed certainty of its very disastrous consequences, to originate 
this violent nervous disorder. Even in Ferdinando's time there 
were many who altogether denied the poisonous effects of the 
tarantula's bite, whilst they considered the disorder, which annually 
set Italy in commotion, to be a melancholy depending on the 

' Ferdinand, p. 2o6. 

• De Contag. Lib. III. ch. 2, p. 212. Opera Lugdun. 1591. 8vo. 

9 De Contag. p. 254. 


imagination.^ They dearly expiated this scepticism, however, 
when they were led, with an inconsiderate hardihood, to test their 
opinions by experiment; for many of them became the subjects of 
severe tarantism, and even a distinguished prelate, Jo. Baptist 
Quinzato, Bishop of Foligno, having allowed himself, by way of 
a joke, to be bitten by a tarantula, could obtain a cure in no other 
way than by being, through the influence of the tarantella, com- 
pelled to dance. ^ Others among the clergy, who wished to shut 
their ears against music, because they considered dancing deroga- 
tory to their station, fell into a dangerous state of^ illness by thus 
delaying the crisis of the malady, and were obliged at last to save 
themselves from a miserable death by submitting to the unwel- 
come but sole means of cure.^ Thus it appears that the age was 
so little favourable to freedom of thought, that even the most de- 
cided sceptics, incapable of guarding themselves against the re- 
collection of what had been presented to the eye, were subdued by 
a poison, the power of which they had ridiculed, and which was 
in itself inert in its effect. 

Sect. 5. — Hysteria. 

Difierent characteristics of morbidly excited vitality having 
been rendered prominent by tarantism in different individuals, it 
could not but happen that other derangements of the nerves would 
assume the form of this, whenever circumstances favoured such a 
transition. This was more especially the case with hysteria, that 
proteiform and mutable disorder, in which the imaginations, the 
superstitions, and the follies of all ages have been evidently reflect- 
ed. The " Carnevaletto delle Donne" appeared most opportunely 
for those who were hysterical. Their disease received from it, as 
it had at other times from other extraordinary customs, a peculiar 
direction ; so that whether bitten by the tarantula or not, they felt 
compelled to participate in the dances of those affected, and to 
make their appearance at this popular festival, where they had an 
opportunity of triumphantly exhibiting their sufferings. Let us 
here pause to consider the kind of life which the women in Ital}'- 
led. Lonely, and deprived by cruel custom of social intercourse, 
that fairest of all enjoyments, they dragged on a miserable exist- 
ence. Cheerfulness and an inclination to sensual pleasures passed 
into compulsory idleness, and, in many, into black despondency.* 

» De Contag. p. 254. » Idem, p. 262. 3 idem, p. 261. 

* "The imaginations of women are always more excitable than those of men, and 


Their imaginations became disordered — a pallid countenance and 
oppressed respiration bore testimony to their profound sufferings. 
How could they do otherwise, sunk as they were in such extreme 
misery, than seize the occasion to burst forth from their prisons, 
and alleviate their miseries by taking part in the delights of 
music. Nor should we here pass unnoticed a circumstance which 
illustrates, in a remarkable degree, the psychological nature of 
hysterical sufferings, namely, that many chlorotic females, by join- 
ing the dancers at the Carnevaletto, were freed from their spasms 
and oppression of breathing for the whole year, although the cor- 
poreal cause of their malady was not removed.^ After such, a re- 
sult, no one could call their self-deception a mere imposture, and 
unconditionally condemn it as such. 

This numerous class of patients certainly contributed not a 
little to the maintenance of the evil, for their fantastic sufferings, 
in which dissimulation and reality could scarcely be distinguished 
even by themselves, much less by their jjhysicians, were imitated, 
in the same way as the distortions of the St. Vitus's dancers, by 
the impostors of that period. It was certainly by these persons 
also that the number of subordinate symptoms was increased to an 
endless extent, as may be conceived from the daily observation of 
hysterical patients, who, from a morbid desire to render themselves 
remarkable, deviate from the laws of moral propriety. Powerful 
sexual excitement had often the most decided influence over their 

they are therefore susceptible of every folly when they lead a life of strict seclusion, 
and their thoughts are constantly turned inwards upon themselves. Hence in orphan 
asylums, hospitals, and convents, the nervous disorder of one female so easily and quick- 
ly becomes the disorder of all. I have read in a good medical work that a nun, in a 
very large convent in France, began to mew like a cat; shortly afterwards other nuns 
also mewed. At last all the nuns mewed together every day at a certain time for 
several hours together. The whole surrounding Christian neighbourhood heard, with 
eqyal chagrin and astonishment, this daily cat-concert, which did not cease until all the 
nuns were informed that a company of soldiers were placed by the police before the en- 
trance of the convent, and that they were provided with rods, and would continue 
whipping them until they promised not to mew any more. 

"But of all the epidemics of females which I myself have seen in Germany, or of 
which the history is known to me, the most remarkable is the celebrated Convent- 
epidemic of the fifteenth century, which Cardan describes, and which peculiarly proves 
what I would here enforce. A nun in a German nunnery fell to biting all her com- 
panions. In the course of a short time all the nuns of this convent began biting each 
other. The news of this infatuation among the nuns soon spread, and it now passed 
from convent to convent throughout a great part of Germany, principally Saxony and 
Brandenburg. It afterwards visited the nunneries of Holland, and at last the nuns had 
the biting mania even as far as Eome." — Zimmermann on Solitude, Vol. II. Leipsig. 
1784. — Transl. note. 

' Georg. Baglivi, Diss, de Anatome, morsu et effectibus Tarantulie. pp. 616, 617. 
0pp. Lugdiui. 1710. 4to. 


condition. Many of them exposed themselves in the most inde- 
cent manner, tore their hair out by the roots, with howling and 
gnashing of their teeth ; and when, as was sometimes the case, 
their unsatisfied passion hurried them on to a state of frenzy, they 
closed their existence by self-destruction ; it being common at 
that time for these unfortunate beings to precipitate themselves 
into the wells. ^ 

It might hence seem that, owing to the conduct of patients of 
this description, so much of fraud and falsehood would be mixed 
up with the original disorder, that having passed into another 
complaint, it must have been itself destroyed. This, however, 
did not happen in the first half of the seventeenth century ; for 
as a clear proof that Tarantism remained substantially the same 
and quite unafiected by Hysteria, there were in many places, and 
in particular at Messapia, fewer women affected than men, who 
in their turn were, in no small proportion, led into temptation by 
sexual excitement.^ In other places, as for example at Brindisi, 
the case was reversed, which may, as in other complaints, be in 
some measure attributable to local causes. Upon the whole it ap- 
pears, from concurrent accounts, that women by no means enjoy- 
ed the distinction of being attacked by Tarantism more frequently 
than men. 

It is said that the cicatrix of the tarantula bite, on the yearly 
or half-yearly return of the fit, became discoloured,^ but on this 
point the distinct testimony of good observers is wanting to de- 
prive the assertion of its utter improbability. 

It is not out of place to remark here, that about the same time 
that Tarantism attained its greatest height in Italy, the bite of 
venomous spiders was more feared in distant parts of Asia, like- 
wise, than it had ever been within the memory of man. There 
was this difference, however, that the symptoms supervening on 
the occurrence of this accident were not accompanied by the 
Apulian nervous disorder, which, as has been shown in the fore- 
going pages, had its origin rather in the melancholic temperament 
of the inhabitants of the south of Italy, than in the nature of the 
tarantula poison itself. This poison is therefore doubtless to be 
considered only as a remote cause of the complaint, which, but for 
that temperament, would be inadequate to its production. The 
Persians employed a very rough means of counteracting the bad 
consequences of a poison of this sort. They drenched the wound- 

1 Ferdmando, p. 257- - Idem, pp. 2oG, 257, 258. 

3 Idem, p. 258. 


ed person with milk, and then, by violent rotatory motion in a 
suspended box, compelled him to vomit.' 

Sect. 6. — Decrease. 

The Dancing Mania, arising from the tarantula bite, continued, 
with all those additions of self-deception, and of the dissimulation 
which is such a constant attendant on nervous disorders of this 
kind, through the whole course of the seventeenth century. It 
was indeed gradually on the decline, but up to the termination of 
this period, showed such extraordinary symptoms, that Baglivi, 
one of the best physicians of that time, thought he did a service 
to science by making them the subject of a dissertation.^ He repeats 
all the observations of Ferdinando, and supports his own asser- 
tions by the experience of his father, a physician at Lecce, whose 
testimony, as an eye-witness, may be admitted as unexceptionable. 

The immediate consequence of the tarantula bite, the super- 
vening nervous disorder, and the aberrations and fits of those who 
suffered from Hysteria, he describes in a masterly style, nor does 
he ever suffer his credulity to diminish the authenticity of his 
account, of which he has been unjustly accused by later writers. 

Finally, Tarantism has declined more and more in modern 
times, and is now limited to single cases. How could it possibly 
have maintained itself unchanged in the eighteenth century, when 
all the links which connected it with the middle ages had long 
since been snapped asunder ? Imposture '' grew more frequent, 

1 Adam Olearins. Vermehrte Moscowitische und Persianisclie Eeisebeschreibung. 
Travels in Muscovy and Persia. Schlcswig, 1663. fol. Book IV. p. 496. 

- Georg. Baglivi, Dissertatio VI. de Anatorae, morsu et effectibus Tarantulse (written 
in 1595). Opera omnia, Lugdun. 1710. 4to. p. 599. 

3 This pliysician once saw three patients, who were evidently suffering from a malig- 
nant fever, and whose illness was attributed by the by-standers to the bite of the taran- 
tula, forced to dance by having music played to them. One of them died on the spot, and 
the two others very shortly after. Ch. 7. p. 616. 

* Among the instances in which imposture successfidly taxes popular credulity, per- 
haps there is none more remarkable at the present day than that afforded by the Psylli 
of Egypt, a country which furnishes another illustration of our author's remark at the 
commencement of the next chapter. This sect, according to the testimony of modern 
writers, continues to exhibit the same strange spectacles as the ancient serpent-eaters of 
Cyrene, described by Strabo, 17 Dio. 51. c. 14. Lucan, 9. v. 894. 937. Herodot. 4. c. 
173. Pans. 9. c. 28. Savary states that he witnessed a procession at Rosetta, where 
a band of these seeming madmen, with bare arms and wild demeanour, held enormous 
serpents in their hands which writhed round their bodies and endeavoured to make 
their escape. These Psylli, grasping them by the neck, tore them with their teeth and 
ate them up alive, the blood streaming down from their polluted mouths. Others of the 


and wherever the disease still appeared in its genuine form, its 
chief cause, namely, a peculiar cast of melancholy, which formerly 
had been the temperament of thousands, was now possessed only 
occasionally by unfortunate individuals. It might therefore not 
unreasonably be maintained, that the Tarantism of modern times 
bears nearly the same relation to the original malady, as the St. 
Vitus's dance which still exists, and certainly has all along exist- 
ed, bears in certain cases to the original dancing mania of the 
dancers of St, John. 

To conclude. Tarantism, as a real disease, has been denied in 
toto, and stigmatized as an imposition, by most physicians and 
naturalists, who in this controversy have shown the narrowness of 
their views and their utter ignorance of history. In order to 
support their opinion they have instituted some experiments, 
apparently favourable to it, but under circumstances altogether 

Psylli were striving to wrest their prey from them, so that it seemed a struggle among 
them who should devour a serpeut. The populace followed them with amazement, 
and believed their performances to be miraculous. Accordingly they pass for persons 
inspired, and possessed by a spirit who destroys the effect of the serpent. 

Sonnini, though not so fortunate as to witness a public exhibition of such perform- 
ances, yet gives the following interesting account of what he justly calls a remarkable 
specimen of the extravagance of man. After adverting to the superstitious origin of 
the sect, he goes on to say that a Saadi, or serpent-eater, came to his apartment accom- 
panied by a priest of his sect. The priest carried in his bosom a large serpent of a 
dusky green and copper colour, which he was continually handling ; and after having 
recited a prayer, he delivered it to the Saadi. The narrative proceeds : — " "With a 
vigorous hand the Saadi seized the serpent, which twisted itself round his naked arm. 
He began to appear agitated ; his countenance was discomposed ; his eyes rolled ; he 
uttered terrible cries, bit the animal in the head, and tore off a morsel, which we saw 
him chew and swallow. On this his agitation became convulsive ; his bowlings were 
redoubled, his limbs writhed, his countenance assumed the features of madness, and his 
mouth, extended by terrible grimaces, was all in a foam. Every now and then he 
devoured a fresh morsel of the reptile. Three men endeavoured to hold him, but he 
dragged them all three round the chamber. His arms were thrown about with 
violence on all sides, and struck everything within their reach. Eager to avoid him, 
M. Forneti and I were obliged sometimes to cling to the wall, to let him pass and 
escape his blows. "VVe could have wished the madman far away. At length the priest 
took the sei'pent from him, but his madness and convulsions did not cease immediately ; 
he bit his hands, and his fury continued. The priest then grasped him in his arms, 
passed lais hand gently down his back, lifted him from the ground, and recited some 
prayers. By degrees his agitation diminished, and subsided into a state of complete 
lassitude, in which he remained a few moments. 

" The Turks who were present at this ridiculous and disgusting ceremony were firmly 
persuaded of the reality of this religious fury ; and it is very certain that, whether it 
were reality or imposture, it is impossible to see the transports of rage and madness 
exhibited in a more striking manner, or have before your eyes a man more calculated 
to inspire terror." — Hunter's Translation of Sonnini' s Travels, 8vo. 1799. — Transl. 


inapplicable, since, for the most part, they selected, as the subjects 
of them, none but healthy men, who were totally uninfluenced by 
a belief in this once so dreaded disease. From individual in- 
stances of fraud and dissimulation, such as are found in connexion 
with most nervous afiections without rendering their reality a 
matter of any doubt, they drew a too hasty conclusion respecting 
the general phenomenon, of which they appeared not to know that 
it had continued for nearly four hundred years, having originated 
in the remotest periods of the middle ages. The most learned 
and the most acute among these sceptics is Serao the Neapolitan.' 
His reasonings amount to this, that he considers the disease to be a 
very marked form of melancholia, and compares the efiect of the 
tarantula bite upon it to stimulating, with spurs, a horse which is 
already running. The reality of that effect he thus admits, and 
therefore directly confirms what in appearance only he denies.^ 
B}' shaking the already vacillating belief in this disorder he is said 
to have actually succeeded in rendering it less frequent, and in 
setting bounds to imposture ; ^ but this no more disproves the re- 
ality of its existence, than the oft-repeated detection of imposition 
has been able, in modern times, to banish magnetic sleep from the 
circle of natural phenomena, though such detection has, on its 
side, rendered more rare the incontestable effects of animal mag- 
netism. Other physicians and naturalists * have delivered their 

1 Franc. Serao, della Tarantola o vero Falangio di Puglia. Napol. 1742. — See 
Thorn. Fasani, De vita, mimiis et scriptis Fra7ic. Serai, &c. Coinnientarius. Neapol. 
1784. 8vo. p. 76. et seq. 

2 Thorn. Fasani, De vita, mimiis et scriptis Franc. Serai, &c. Commentarius. p. 88. 

3 Idem, p. 89. 

* II. Mercurialis, de Yenenis et Morbis Yenenosis (Yenet. 1601. 4to. Lib. II. ch. 6. 
p. 39), repeats the silly tale, that those who were bitten continued, during their par- 
oxysm, to be occupied with whatever they had been engaged in at the time they re- 
ceived the bite, and proves, by a fact which had been communicated to him, that already, 
in the sixteenth century, they were able to distinguish impostures from those who had 
been really bitten. //. Cardani, de Subtilitate, Libri XXI. Basil. 1560. 8vo. Lib. IX. 
p. 635. The baneful effect of the venom of the tarantula was obviated, not so much 
by music as by the great exertion used in dancing. Compare J. Ccbs. Scaliger. Exoteric. 
Exercitt. Libri XY. de Subtilitate. Francof. 1612. 8vo. Ex. 185. p. 610.— J. M. Fehr^ 
Anchora sacra vel Scorzonera. Jen. 1666. 8vo. p. 127. From Alexander ab Alexan- 
dra, and several later writers. — Stalpart van der IViel, Observatt. rarior. Lugdun. Bat. 
1687. 8vo. Cent.Nl. Obs. C. p. 424. According to Kircher.—Rod. a. Castro, Medicus 
politicus. Hamburg, 1614. 4to. Lib. lY. ch. 16. p. 275. According to Matthioli. — D. 
Cirillo, Some account of the Tarantula, Philosoph. Trans. Yol. LX. 1770. describes 
Tarantism as a common imposture. So also does J. A. Unzer, The Physician, Yol. II. 
pp. 473. 640, vol. III. pp. 466. 526. 528. 529. 530. 533. 553; likewise A. F. Bilsching, 
Eigeue Gedanken und gesammelte Naohrichten von der Tarantel, welche zur ganzlichen 
Yertilgung des Yorurtheils von der Schadlichkeit ihres Bisses. und dor Heilun": dcssel- 


sentiments on Tarantism, but as they have not possessed an en- 
larged knowledge of its history, their views do not merit parti- 
cular exposition. It is sufficient for the comprehension of every 
one, that we have presented the facts freed from all extraneous 



Sect. 1. — Tigretiek. 

Both the St. Vitus's dance and Tarantism belonged to the ages 
in which they appeared. They could not have existed under the 
same latitude at any other epoch, for at no other period were the 
circumstances which prepared the way for them combined in a 
similar relation to each other and the mental as well as corporeal 
temperaments of nations, which depend on causes such as have 

ben durch Musik, dienlich und hiultinglich sind. Obseryations and statements respect- 
ing the Tarantula, which suifice entirely to set aside the prejudice respecting the venom 
of its bite, as also its cure by music. Berlin, 1772. 8vo. A very shallow criticism. 
—P. Forest. Observatt. at Curatt. medicinal. Libri 30, 31 et 32. Francof. 1509. fol. 
Ob. XII. p. 41. diligently compiled from his predecessors. — Phil. Camerar. Operte 
horarum subcisivarum. Francof. 1658. 4to. Cent. II. cap. 81. p. 317. — R. Mead, a 
mechanical account of poisons: London, 1747. 8vo. p. 99. contends for the reality of 
Tarantism with R. Boyle, An essay of the great effects of even languid and unheeded 
motion, &c. London, 1685. ch. VI.— So also J. F. Cartheuser, Fundamenta pathologise 
et therapise. Francof. a. Y. 1758. 8vo. Tom. I. p. 334. Th. Willis de morbis con- 
ATilsivis. cap. VII. p. 492. 0pp. Lugdun. 1681. 4to. According to Gassendi, Ferdinan- 
do, Kircher, and others. — L, Valetta, de Phalangio Apulo opusculum. Neapol. 1706. 

— Thorn. Cornelio (professor at Naples in the middle of the seventeenth century). 
Letter to /. Dodington concerning some observations made of persons pretending to be 
stung by Tarantulas. Phil, Transactions, No. 83. p. 4066. 1672. considers Tarantism to be 
St. Vitus's dance. — Jos. iajzzoni, de Venenis, cap. 57- p. 140. 0pp. Lausann. 1738. 
4to. Tom. I. mostly from Baglivi. — J. Schenk, a Grafenberg. Observatt. Medicar. Lib. 
VII. Obs. 122. p. 792. Tom. II. Ed. Francof. 1600. 8vo. was himself an eye-witness. 

— Wolfg. Senguerd, Tractatus physicus de Tarantula. Lugd. Bat. 1668. 12mo. — Herm. 
Grube, De ictu Tarantulse et vi musices in eius curatione conjectm-a? physico-medicae. 
Francof. 1679. 8vo. — Athan. Kircher, Musurgia universalis. Rom. 1650. fol. Tom. II. 
IX. ch. 4. p. 218. — M. Kohler, in den Svenska Vetenskaps Academiens Handlingar. 
1758. p. 29. Transactions of the Swedish Academy of Sciences. — Berlin Collection for 
the Fui-therance of the Science of Medicine. Vol. V. Pt. 1. p. 53. 1772. — Burserii 
Institutiones medic, pract. tom. III. p. 1. cap. 7. § 219. p. 159. ed. Hecker. — J. S. 
Halle, Gifthistorie. History of Poisons, Berlin, 1786. 8vo. — Blumenbach, Naturge- 
schichte, Natural History, p. 412. — E. F. Leonhardt, Diss, de Tarantismo, Berol. 1827. 
Svo. and manv others. 


been stated, are as little capable of renewal as the different stages 
of life in individuals. This gives so much the more importance 
to a disease but cursorily alluded to in the foregoing pages, which 
exists in Abyssinia, and which nearly resembles the original mania 
of the St. John's dancers, inasmuch as it exhibits a perfectly simi- 
lar ecstacy, with the same violent effect on the nerves of motion. 
It occurs most frequently in the Tigre country, being thence call- 
ed Tigretier, and is probably the same malady which is called in 
the Ethiopian language Astariigaza.' On this subject we will in- 
troduce the testimony of Nathaniel Pearce,^ an eye-witness, who 
resided nine years in Abyssinia. "The Tigretier," says he, " is more 
common among the women than among the men. It seizes the 
body as if with a violent fever, and from that turns to a lingering 
sickness, which reduces the patients to skeletons, and often kills 
them, if the relations cannot procure the proper remedy. During 
this sickness their speech is changed to a kind of stuttering, which 
no one can understand but those afflicted with the same disorder. 
When the relations find the malady to be the real tigretier, they 
join together to defray the expenses of curing it ; the first remedy 
they in general attempt, is to procure the assistance of a learned 
Dofter, who reads the Gospel of St. John,^ and drenches the patient 
with cold water daily for the space of seven days — an application 
that very often proves fatal. The most effectual cure, though far 
more expensive than the former, is as follows : — The relations 
hire, for a certain sum of money, a band of trumpeters, drummers, 
and fifers, and buy a quantity of liquor ; then all the young men 
and women of the place assemble at the patient's house, to per- 
form the following most extraordinary ceremony. 

" I was once called in by a neighbour to see his wife, a very 
young woman, who had the misfortune to be afflicted with this 
disorder ; and the man being an old acquaintance of mine, and 
always a close comrade in the camp, I went every day when at 

' This may, however, be considered merely as a conjecture, founded upon the fol- 
lowing passage in Ludolfs Lexicon ^Ethiopic. Ed. 2da. Francof. 1699. fol. p. 142. 
Astarugaza, de vexatione quadam diabolica accipitur. Marc. i. 26. ix. 18. Luc. ix. 39. 
Gmecus habet anaQarTiiv, vellicare, discerpere. Seel ^thiopes, teste Gregorio, pro 
morbo quodam accipkmt, quo quis perpetuo 2}edes agitare et quasi calcitrare cogitur. 
Fortassis est Saltatio S. Yiti, vulgo St. Yeitstanz. 

^ The Life and Adventures of Nathaniel Pearce, written by himself, during a resi- 
dence in Abyssinia, from the year 1810 to 1819. London, 1831. 8vo. Vol. I. ch. ix. 
p. 290. 

3 The Evangelist and St. John the Baptist have been at all times, and among all na- 
tions, confounded with each other, so that the relation of the latter to one and the 
same phenomenon in such different ages and climates is very probable. 


home, to see her, but I could not be of any service to her, though 
she never refused my medicines. At this time, I could not under- 
stand a word she said, although she talked very freely, nor could 
any of her relations understand her. She could not bear the sight 
of a book or a priest, for at the sight of either, she struggled, and 
was apparently seized with acute agony, and a flood of tears, like 
blood mingled with water, would pour down her face from her 
eyes. She had lain three months in this lingering state, living 
upon so little that it seemed not enough to keep a human body 
alive ; at last, her husband agreed to employ the usual remedy, 
and, after preparing for the maintenance of the band, during the 
time it would take to effect the cure, he borrowed from all his 
neighbours their silver ornaments, and loaded her legs, arms, 
and neck with them. 

" The evening that the band began to play, I seated myself close 
by her side as she lay upon the couch, and about two minutes 
after the trumpets had begun to sound, I observed her should- 
ers begin to move, and soon afterwards her head and breast, 
and in less than a quarter of an hour she sat upon her couch. 
The wild look she had, though sometimes she smiled, made me 
draw ofi" to a greater distance, being almost alarmed to see one 
nearly a skeleton move with such strength ; her head, neck, 
shoulders, hands, and feet, all made a strong motion to the sound 
of the music, and in this manner she went on by degrees, until 
she stood u]3 on her legs upon the floor. Afterwards she began 
to dance, and at times to jump about, and at last, as the music 
and noise of the singers increased, she often sprang three feet from 
the ground. When the music slackened, she would appear quite 
out of temper, but when it became louder, she would smile and be 
delighted. During this exercise, she never showed the least 
symptom of being tired, though the musicians were thoroughly 
exhausted ; and when they stopped to refresh themselves by drink- 
ing and resting a little, she would discover signs of discontent. 

" Next day, according to the custom in the cure of this dis- 
order, she was taken into the market-place, where several jars of 
maize or tsng were set in order by the relations, to give drink to 
the musicians and dancers. When the crowd had assembled and 
the music was ready, she was brought forth and began to dance 
and throw herself into the maddest postures imaginable, and in 
this manner she kept on the whole day. Towards evening she 
began to let fall her silver ornaments from her neek, arms, and 
legs, one at a time, so that in the course of three hours she was 


stripped of every article. A relation continually kept going 
after her as she danced, to pick up the ornaments, and afterwards 
delivered them to the owners from whom they were borrowed. 
As the sun went down, she made a start with such swiftness, that 
the fastest runner could not come up with her, and when at the 
distance of about two hundred yards, she dropped on a sudden, as 
if shot. Soon afterwards, a young man, on coming up with her, 
fired a matchlock over her body, and struck her upon the back 
with the broad side of his large knife, and asked her name, to 
which she answered as when in her common senses — a sure proof 
of her being cured ; for, during the time of this malady, those 
afflicted with it never answer to their Christian names. She was 
now taken up in a very weak condition and carried home, and a 
priest came and baptized her again in the name of the Father, 
Son, and Holy Ghost, which ceremony concluded her cure. Some 
are taken in tbis manner to the market-place for many days be- 
fore they can be cured, and it sometimes happens that they can- 
not be cured at all. I have seen them in these fits dance with a 
hruly, or bottle of maize, upon their heads, without spilling the 
liquor, or letting the bottle fall, although they have put them- 
selves into the most extravagant postures. 

" I could not have ventured to write this from hearsa}^, nor 
could I conceive it possible, until I was obliged to put this remedy 
in practice upon my own wife,' who was seized T^4th the same dis- 
order, and then I was compelled to have a still nearer view of this 
strange disorder. I at first thought that a whip would be of some 
service, and one da}'' attempted a few strokes when unnoticed by 
any person, we being by ourselves, and I having a strong suspicion 
that this ailment sprang from the weak minds of women, who 
were encouraged in it for the sake of the grandeur, rich dress, and 
music which accompany the cure. But how much was I surprised, 
ihe moment I struck a light blow, thinking to do good, to find 
that she became like a corpse, and even the joints of her fingers 
became so stiff that I could not straighten them ; indeed, I really 
thought that she was dead, and immediately made it known to the 
people in the house that she had fainted, but did not tell them the 
cause, upon which they immediately brought music, which I had 
for many days denied them, and which soon revived her; and I 
then left the house to her relations to cure her at my expense, in 
the manner I have before mentioned, though it took a much long- 
er time to cure my wife than the woman I have just given 
^ She was a native Greek. 


an account of. One day I went privately, with a companion, to 
see my wife dance, and kept a short distance, as I was ashamed to 
go near the crowd. On looking stedfastly upon her, while 
dancing or jumping, more like a deer than a human being, I said 
that it certainly was not my wife ; at which my companion burst 
into a fit of laughter, from which he could scarcely refrain all the 
way home. Men are sometimes afflicted with this dreadful dis- 
order, but not frequently. Among the Amhara and Gralla it is 
not so common." 

Such is the account of Pearce, who is every way worthy of 
credit, and whose lively description renders the traditions of form- 
er times respecting the St. Yitus's dance and tarantism intelligible, 
even to those who are sceptical respecting the existence of a mor- 
bid state of the mind and body of the kind described, because, in 
the present advanced state of civilization among the nations of 
Europe, opportunities for its development no longer occur. The 
credibility of this energetic, but by no means ambitious man, is not 
liable to the slightest suspicion, for, owing to his want of educa- 
tion, he had no knowledge of the phenomena in question, and his 
work evinces throughout his attractive and unpretending im- 

Comparison is the mother of observation, and may here eluci- 
date one phenomenon by another — the past by that which still 
exists. Oppression, insecurity, and the influence of a very rude 
priestcraft, are the powerful causes which operated on the Ger- 
mans and Italians of the middle ages, as they now continue to 
operate on the Abyssinians of the present day. However these 
people may differ from us in their descent, their manners and 
their customs, the effects of the above-mentioned causes are the 
same in Africa as they were in Europe, for they operate on man 
himself independently of the particular locality in which he may 
be planted ; and the condition of the Abyssinians of modern times 
is, in regard to superstition, a mirror of the condition of the Eu- 
ropean nations in the middle ages. Should this appear a bold as- 
sertion, it Avill be strengthened by the fact, that in Abyssinia, two 
examples of superstitions occur, which are completely in accord- 
ance with occurrences of the middle ages that took place contem- 
porarily with the dancing mania. The Abyssinians have their 
Christian flagellants, and there exists among them a belief in a 
Zoomorphism, which presents a lively image of the lycanthropy of 
the middle ages. Their flagellants are called Zackarys. They 
are united into a separate Christian fraternity, and make their 


processions through the towns and villages with great noise and 
tumult, scourging themselves till they draw blood, and wounding 
themselves with knives.^ They boast that they are descendants 
of St. George. It is precisely in Tigre, the country of the Abys- 
sinian dancing mania, where they are found in the greatest num- 
bers, and where they have, in the neighbourhood of Axum, a 
church of their own, dedicated to their patron saint, Oun Arvel. 
Here there is an ever-burning lamp, and they contrive to impress 
a belief that this is kept alight by supernatural means. They 
also here keep a holy water, which is said to be a cure for those 
who are affected by the dancing mania. 

The Abyssinian Zoomorphisra is a no less important phenome- 
non, and shows itself in a manner quite peculiar. The black- 
smiths and potters form, among the Abyssinians, a society or caste 
called in Tigre Tehbih, and in Amhara Buda, which is held in 
some degree of contempt, and excluded from the sacrament of the 
Lord's Supper, because it is believed that they can change them- 
selves into hyasnas and other beasts of prey, on which account they 
are feared by everybody, and regarded with horror. They art- 
fully contrive to keep up this superstition, because by this separa- 
tion they preserve a monopoly of their lucrative trades, and as in 
other respects they are good Christians (but few Jews or Mahome- 
dans live among them), they seem to attach no great consequence 
to their excommunication. As a badge of distinction, they wear 
a golden earring, which is frequently found in the ears of hj'aenas 
that are killed, without its having ever been discovered how they 
catch these animals, so as to decorate them with this strange orna- 
ment, and this removes, in the minds of the people, all doubt at 
to the supernatural powers of the smiths and potters.^ To the 
Budas is also ascribed the gift of enchantment, especially that of 
the influence of the evil eye.^ They nevertheless live unmolested, 
and are not condemned to the flames by fanatical priests, as the 
lycanthropes were in the middle ages. 

' Pearce, p. 289. Compare p. 34. — E. G. Forstemann, Die christlichen Geissler- 
gesellschaften. The Christian Societies of FlageUants. Halle, 1828. 8vo. 

* Idem, loc. cit. 

3 Among the ancient Greeks ^aaKi^iyiQ. This superstition is more or less developed 
among all the nations of the earth, and has not yet entirely disappeared from Europe. 




. Imitation — compassion — sympathy, these are imperfect designa- 
tions for a common bond of union amona: human beings — for an 
instinct which connects individuals with the general body, which 
embraces with equal force, reason and folly, good and evil, and 
diminishes the praise of virtue as well as the criminality of vice. 
In this impulse there are degrees, but no essential differences, 
from the first intellectual efforts of the infant mind, which are in 
a great measure based on imitation, to that morbid condition of the 
soul in which the sensible impression of a nervous malady fetters 
the mind, and finds its way, through the eye, directly to the dis- 
eased texture, as the electric shock is propagated by contact from 
body to body. To this instinct of imitation, when it exists in its 
highest degree, is united a loss of all power over the will, which 
occurs as soon as the impression on the senses has become firmly 
established, producing a condition like that of small animals when 
they are fascinated by the look of a serpent. By this mental 
bondage, morbid sympathy is clearly and definitely distinguished 
from all subordinate degrees of this instinct, however closely al- 
lied the imitation of a disorder may seem to be to that of a mere 
folly, of an absurd fashion, of an awkward habit in speech and 
manner, or even of a confusion of ideas. Even these latter imita- 
tions, however, directed as they are to foolish and pernicious ob- 
jects, place the self-independence of the greater portion of man- 
kind in a very doubtful light, and account for their union into a 
social whole. Still more nearly allied to morbid sympathy than 
the imitation of enticing folly, although often with a considerable 
admixture of the latter, is the diffusion of violent excitements, espe- 
cially those of a religious or political character, which have so 
powerfully agitated the nations of ancient and modern times, and 
which may, after an incipient compliance,' pass into a total loss 
of power over the will, and an actual disease of the mind. Far 
be it from us to attempt to awaken all the various tones of this 
chord, whose vibrations reveal the profound secrets which lie hid 
in the inmost recesses of the soul. We might well want powers 
adequate to so vast an undertaking. Our business here is only 
with that morbid sympathy, by the aid of which the dancing 
mania of the middle ages grew into a real epidemic. In order to 

1 Paracelstcs. 


make this apparent by comparison, it may not be out of place, at 
the close of this inquiry, to introduce a few striking examples : — 
1. " At a cotton manufactory at Hodden Bridge, in Lancashire, 
a girl, on the fifteenth of February, 1787, put a mouse into the 
bosom of another girl, who had a great dread of mice. The girl 
was immediately thrown into a fit, and continued in it, with the 
most violent convulsions, for twenty-four hours. On the follow- 
ing day, three more girls were seized in the same manner ; and 
on the 17th, six more. By this time the alarm was so great, that 
the whole work, in which 200 or 300 were employed, was totally 
stopped, and an idea prevailed that a particular disease had been 
introduced by a bag of cotton opened in the house. On Sunday 
the 18th, Dr. St. Clare was sent for from Preston ; before he 
arrived three more were seized, and during that night and the 
morning of the 19th, eleven more, making in all twenty-four. 
Of these, twenty-one were young women, two were girls of about 
ten years of age, and one man, who had been much fatigued with 
holding the girls. Three of the number lived about two miles 
from the place where the disorder first broke out, and three at 
another factory at Clitheroe, about five miles distant, which last 
and two more were infected entirely from report, not having seen 
the other patients, but, like them and the rest of the country, 
strongly impressed with the idea of the plague being caught from 
the cotton. The symptoms were anxiety, strangulation, and very 
strong convulsions ; and these were so violent as to last without 
any intermission from a quarter of an hour to twenty-four hours, 
and to require four or five persons to prevent the patients from 
tearing their hair and dashing their heads against the floor or 
walls. Dr. St. Clare had taken with him a portable electrical 
machine, and by electric shocks the patients were universally re- 
lieved without exception. As soon as the patients and the 
country were assured that the complaint was merely nervous, 
easily cured, and not introduced by the cotton, no fresh person 
was affected. To dissipate their apprehension still further, the 
best effects were obtained by causing them to take a cheerful glass 
and join in a dance. On Tuesdaj^ the 20th, they danced, and 
the next day were all at work, except two or three, who were 
much weakened by their'fits.'" 

1 Gentleman's ]\[agazinc, 1787, March, p. 2G8.— F. B. Osiander, Ueber die Ent- 
Tviclvelimgslvrankheitcn in den Eluthcnjahrcn dcs weiblichen Geschlcchts. On the dis- 
orders of younjr women, &c. Tubingen, 1820, Vol. I. p. 10. 


The occurrence here described is remarkable on this account, 
that there was no important predisposing cause for convulsions in 
these young women, unless we consider as such their miserable 
and confined life in the work-rooms of a spinning manufactory. 
It did not arise from enthusiasm, nor is it stated that the patients 
had been the subjects of any other nervous disorders. In another 
perfectly analogous case,- those attacked were all suffering from 
nervous complaints, which roused a morbid sympathy in them at 
the sight of a person seized with convulsions. This, together 
with the supervention of hysterical fits, may aptly enough be 
compared to Tarantism. 

2. "A young woman of the lowest order, twenty-one years of 
age, and of a strong frame, came on the 13th of January, 1801, to 
visit a patient in the Charite hospital at Berlin, where she had 
herself been previously under treatment for an inflammation of the 
chest with tetanic spasms, and immediately on entering the ward, 
fell down in strong convulsions. At the sight of her violent con- 
tortions, six other female patients immediately became affected in 
the same way, and by degrees eight more were in like manner 
attacked with strong convulsions. All these patients were from 
sixteen to twenty-five years of age, and suffered without excep- 
tion, one from spasms in the stomach, another from palsy, a third 
from lethargy, a fourth from fits with consciousness, a fifth from 
catalepsy, a sixth from syncope, &c. The convulsions, which 
alternated in various ways with tonic spasms, were accompanied 
by loss of sensibility, and were invariably preceded by languor 
with heavy sleep, which was followed by the fits in the course of 
a minute or two ; and it is remarkable, that in all these patients 
their former nervous disorders, not excepting paralysis, disappear- 
ed, returning, however, after the subsequent removal of their new 
complaint. The treatment, during the course of which two of the 
nurses, who were young women, suffered similar attacks, was 
continued for four months. It was finally successful, and con- 
sisted principally in the administration of opium, at that time the 
favourite remedy." ^ 

Now, every species of enthusiasm, every strong affection, every 
violent passion, may lead to convulsions — to mental disorders — 
to a concussion of the nerves, from the sensorium to the very 
finest extremities of the spinal chord. The whole world is full of 

' This account is given by Fritze. Hvfeland's Journal der practischcn Heilkunde, 
Vol. XII. 1801. Part I. p. 110, Hufeland's Journal of Practical Medicine. 



examples of this afflicting state of turmoil, which, when the mind 
is carried away by the force of a sensual impression that destroys 
its freedom, is irresistibly propagated by imitation. Those who 
are thvis infected do not spare even their own lives, but, as a 
hunted flock of sheep will follow their leader and rush over a 
precipice, so will whole hosts of enthusiasts, deluded by their in- 
fatuation, hurry on to a self-inflicted death. Such has ever been 
the case, from the days of the Milesian virgins to the modern 
associations for self-destruction.^ Of all enthusiastic infatuations, 
however, that of religion is the most fertile in disorders of the 
mind as well as of the body, and both spread with the greatest 
facility by sympathy. The history of the church furnishes in- 
numerable proofs of this, but we need go no further than the 
most recent times. 

3. In a Methodist chapel at Redruth, a man, during divine ser- 
vice, cried out with a loud voice, " What shall I do to be saved ?" 
at the same time manifesting the greatest uneasiness and solicitude 
respecting the condition of his soul. Some other members of the 
congregation, following his example, cried out in the same form 
of words, and seemed shortly after to suffer the most excruciating 
bodily pain. This strange occurrence was soon publicly known, 
and hundreds of people, who had come thither, either attracted by 
curiosity, or a desire, from other motives, to see the sufferers, fell 
into the same state. The chapel remained open for some days 
and nights, and from that point the new disorder spread 
itself, with the rapidity of lightning, over the neighbouring 
towns of Camborne, Helston, Truro, Penryn, and Falmouth, as 
well as over the villages in the vicinity. Whilst thus advancing, 
it decreased in some measure at the place where it had first ap- 
peared, and it confined itself throughout to the Methodist chapels. 
It was only by the words which have been mentioned that it was 
excited, and it seized none but people of the lowest education. 
Those who were attacked betrayed the greatest anguish, and fell 
into convulsions ; others cried out, like persons possessed, that the 
Almighty would straightway pour out his wrath upon them, that 
the wailings of tormented spirits rang in their ears, and that they 
saw hell open to receive them. The clergy, when, in the course of 
their sermons, they perceived that persons were thus seized, 

1 Compare J. G. Zimmennatm, Ueber die Einsanikeit. Leipsig, 1784. 8vo. Vol. II. 
ch. 6. p. 77. On Solitude. — J. P. Falret, De I'hypochondrie et du suicide. Paris, 1822. 
8vo., and others. 


earnestly exhorted them to confess their sins, and zealously en- 
deavoured to convince them that they were by nature enemies to 
Christ ; that the anger of God had therefore fallen upon them ; 
and that if death should surprise them in the midst of their sins, 
the eternal torments of hell would be their portion. The over- 
excited congregation upon this repeated their words, which 
naturally must have increased the fury of their convulsive attacks. 
When the discourse had produced its full effect, the preacher 
changed his subject ; reminded those who were suffering of the 
power of the Saviour, as well as of the grace of God, and repre- 
sented to them in glowing colours the joys of heaven. Upon this 
a remarkable reaction sooner or later took place. Those who were 
in convulsions felt themselves raised from the lowest depths of 
misery and despair to the most exalted bliss, and triumphantly 
shouted out that their bonds were loosed, their sins were forgiven, 
and that they were translated to the wonderful freedom of the 
children of God. In the mean time, their convulsions continued, 
and they remained, during this condition, so abstracted from every 
earthly thought, that they staid two and sometimes three days 
and nights together in the chapels, agitated all the time by spas- 
modic movements, and taking neither repose nor nourishment. 
According to a moderate computation, 4000 people were, within a 
very short time, affected with this convulsive malady. 

The course and symptoms of the attacks were in general as 
follows : — There came on at first a feeling of faintness, with 
rigour and a sense of weight at the pit of the stomach, soon after 
which, the patient cried out, as if in the agonies of death or the 
pains of labour. The convulsions then began, first showing them- 
selves in the muscles of the eyelids, though the eyes themselves 
were fixed and staring. The most frightful contortions of the 
countenance followed, and the convulsions now took their course 
downwards, so that the muscles of the neck and trunk were affect- 
ed, causing a sobbing respiration, which was performed with great 
effort. Tremors and agitation ensued, and the patients scream- 
ed out violently, and tossed their heads about from side to side. 
As the complaint increased, it seized the arms, and its victims 
beat their breasts, clasped their hands, and made all sorts of 
strange gestures. The observer who gives this account remarked 
that the lower extremities were in no instance affected. In some 
cases, exhaustion came on in a very few minutes, but the attack 
usually lasted much longer, and there were even cases in which it 
was known to continue for sixty or seventy hours. Many of those 


who happened to be seated when the attack commenced, bent their 
bodies rapidly backwards and forwards during its continuance, 
making a corresponding motion with their arms, like persons sawing 
wood. Others shouted aloud, leaped about, and threw their bodies 
into every possible posture, until they had exhausted their strength. 
Yawning took place at the commencement in all cases, but as the 
violence of the disorder increased, the circulation and respiration 
became accelerated, so that the countenance assumed a swollen and 
puffed appearance. When exhaustion came on, patients usually 
fainted, and remained in a stiff and motionless state until their re- 
covery. The disorder completely resembled the St. Vitus's dance, 
but the fits sometimes went on to an extraordinarily violent ex- 
tent, so that the author of the account once saw a woman, who 
was seized with these convulsions, resist the endeavours of four 
or five strong men to restrain her. Those patients who did not 
lose their consciousness were in general made more furious by 
every attempt to quiet them by force, on which account they 
were in general suffered to continue unmolested until nature 
herself brought on exhaustion. Those affected complained, more 
or less, of debility after the attacks, and cases sometimes occurred 
in which they passed into other disorders : thus some fell into a 
state of melanchol}', which, however, in consequence of their re- 
ligious ecstacy, was distinguished by the absence of fear and 
despair ; and in one patient inflammation of the brain is said to 
have taken place. No sex or age was exempt from this ejjidemic 
malady. Children five years old and octogenarians were alike 
affected by it, and even men of the most powerful frame were 
subject to its influence. Girls and young women, however, were 
its most frequent victims.^ 

4. For the last hundred years a nervous affection of a perfectly 
similar kind has existed in the Shetland Islands, which furnishes 
a stinking example, perhaps the only one now existing, of the 
very lasting propagation by sympathy of this species of disorders. 
The origin of the malady was very insignificant. An epileptic 
woman had a fit in church, and whether it was that the minds of 
the congregation were excited by devotion, or that, being over- 
come at the sight of the strong convulsions, their sympathy was 
called forth, certain it is, that many adult women, and even 
children, some of whom Avere of the male sex, and not more than 

1 This statement is made by J. Cornish. See Fothergill uiul Want's Medical and 
Physical Journal, v(>l. xxxi. 1814. pp. 373 — 379. ^ 


six years old, began to complain forthwith of palpitation, follow- 
ed by faiutness, which passed into a motionless and apparently 
cataleptic condition. These symptoms lasted more than an hour, 
and probably recurred frequently. In the course of time, however, 
this malady is said to have undergone a modification, such as it 
exhibits at the present day. Women whom it has attacked will 
suddenly fall down, toss their arms about, writhe their bodies into 
various shapes, move their heads suddenly from side to side, and 
with eyes fijsed and staring, utter the most dismal cries. If 
the fit happen on any occasion of public diversion, they will, as 
soon as it has ceased, mix with their companions, and continue 
their amusement as if nothing had happened. Paroxysms of this 
kind used to prevail most during the warm months of summer, 
and about fifty years ago there was scarcely a Sabbath in which 
they did not occur. Strong passions of the mind, induced by 
religious enthusiasm, are also exciting causes of these fits, but like 
all such false tokens of divine workings, they are easily encounter- 
ed by producing in the patient a different frame of mind, and 
especially by exciting a sense of shame : thus those affected are 
under the control of any sensible preacher, who knows how to 
" administer to a mind diseased," and to expose the folly of volun- 
tarily yielding to a sympathy so easily resisted, or of inviting 
such attacks by afifectation. An intelligent and pious minister of 
Shetland informed the physician, who gives an account of this 
disorder as an eye-witness, that being considerably annoj^ed, on 
his first introduction into the country, by these paroxysms, where- 
by the devotions of the church were much impeded, he obviated 
their repetition by assuring his parishioners, that no treatment 
was more effectual than immersion in cold water : and as his kirk 
was fortunately contiguous to a fresh-water lake, he gave notice 
that attendants should be at hand, during divine service, to ensure 
the proper means of cure. The sequel need scarcely be told. 
The fear of being carried out of the church, and into the water, 
acted like a charm ; not a single Naiad was made, and the worthy 
minister, for many years, had reason to boast of one of the best- 
regulated congregations in Shetland. As the physician above 
alluded to was attending divine service in the kirk of Baliasta, on 
the Isle of Unst, a female shriek, the indication of a convulsion 
fit, was heard ; the minister, Mr. Ingram, of Fetlar, very proper- 
ly stopped his discourse, until the disturber was removed ; and, 
after advising all those who thought they might be similarly 
affected, to leave the church, he gave out, in the mean time, a 


psalm. The congregation was thus preserved from further in- 
terruption ; yet the effect of sympathy was not prevented, for as 
the narrator of the account was leaving the church, he saw 
several females writhing and tossing about their arms on the 
green grass, who durst not, for fear of a censure from the pulpit, 
exhibit themselves after this manner within the sacred walls of 
the kirk.' 

In the production of this disorder, which no doubt still exists, 
fanaticism certainly had a smaller share than the irritable state of 
women out of health, who only needed excitement, no matter of 
what kind, to throw them into the prevailing nervous paroxysms. 
When, however, that powerful cause of nervous disorders takes 
the lead, we find far more remarkable symptoms developed, and 
it then depends on the mental condition of the people among 
whom they appear, whether, in their spread, they shall take a 
narrow or an extended range — whether, confined to some small 
knot of zealots, they are to vanish without a trace, or whether 
they are to attain even historical importance. 

5. The appearance of the Conmihionnaires in France, whose 
inhabitants, from the greater mobility of their blood, have in 
general been the less liable to fanaticism, is, in this respect, in- 
structive and worthy of attention. In the year 1727 there died, 
in the capital of that country, the Deacon Paris, a zealous opposer 
of the Ultramontanists, division having arisen in the French 
church on account of the bull " Unigenitus." People made fre- 
quent visits to his tomb, in the cemetery of St. Medard, and four 
years afterwards (in September, 1731), a rumour was spread, that 
miracles took place there. Patients were seized with convulsions 
and tetanic spasms, rolled upon the ground like persons possessed, 
were thrown into violent contortions of their heads and limbs, and 
suffered the greatest oppression, accompanied by quickness and 
irregularity of pulse. This novel occurrence excited the greatest 
sensation all over Paris, and an immense concourse of people re- 
sorted daily to the above-named cemetery, in order to see so 
wonderful a spectacle, which the Ultramontanists immediately in- 
terpreted as a work of Satan, while their opponents ascribed it to 
a divine influence. The disorder soon increased, until it produced, 
in nervous women, clairvoyance {Sclilafwachen), a phenomenon 
till then unknown ; for one female especially attracted attention, 

^ Samuel Hibbert, Description of the Shetland Islands, comprising an account ' of 
their geology, scenery, antiquities, and superstitions. Edinburgh, 1822. 4to. p. 399. 


who blindfold, and, as it was believed, by means of the sense of 
smell, read every writing that was placed before her, and distin- 
guished the characters of unknown persons. The very earth 
taken from the grave of the Deacon was soon thought to possess 
miraculous power. It was sent to numerous sick persons at a dis- 
tance, whereby they were said to have been cured, and thus this 
nervous disorder spread far beyond the limits of the capital, so 
that at one time it was computed that there were more than eight 
hundred decided Conmdsiomiaires, who would hardly have in- 
creased so much in numbers, had not Louis XV. directed that the 
cemetery should be closed.' The disorder itself assumed various 
forms, and augmented, by its attacks, the general excitement. 
Many persons, besides suffering from the convulsions, became the 
subjects of violent pain, which required the assistance of their 
brethren of the faith. On this account they, as well as those who 
afforded them aid, were called by the common title of Secourists. 
The modes of relief adopted were remarkably in accordance with 
those which were administered to the St. John's dancers and the 
Tarantati, and they were in general very rough ; for the sufferers 
were beaten and goaded in various parts of the body with stones, 
hammers, swords, clubs, &c., of which treatment the defenders of 
this extraordinary sect relate the most astonishing examples, in 
proof that severe pain is imperatively demanded by nature in this 
disorder, as an effectual counter-irritant. The Secourists used 
wooden clubs, in the same manner as paviours use their mallets, 
and it is stated that some Convulsionnaires have borne daily from 
six to eight thousand blows, thus inflicted, without danger.^ One 
Secourist administered to a young woman, who was suffering un- 
der spasm of the stomach, the most violent blows on that part, not 
to mention other similar cases, which occurred everywhere in 
great numbers. Sometimes the patients bounded from the ground, 
impelled by the convulsions, like fish when out of water ; and this 
was so frequently imitated at a later period, that the women and 
girls, when they expected such violent contortions, not wishing to 

^ About this time the following couplet was circulated : — 

" De par le Roi, defense a Dieu 

De faire miracle dans ce lieu." 

2 This kind of assistance was called the " Grands Secours." Boursier, Memoire 
Theologique sur ce qu'on appelle les Secours violens dans les Convulsions. Paris, 
1788. 12mo. Many Convulsionnaires were seized with illness in consequence of this 
singularly erroneous mode of cure. A Dominican friar died from the eifects of it — 
though accidents of this kind were kept carefully concealed. See Renault (parish 
priest at Yaux, near Auxerre; obiit, 1796), Le Secourisme detruit dans ses fondemens, 
1759, 12mo., and Le Mystere d'Iniquite, 1788. 8vo. 


appear indecent, put on gowns, made like sacks, closed at the feet. 
If they received any bruises by falling down, they were healed 
with earth from the grave of the uncanonized saint. They usu- 
ally, however, showed great agility in this respect, and it is scarcely 
necessary to remark that the female sex especially was distinguish- 
ed by all kinds of leaping, and almost inconceivable contortions 
of body. Some spun round on their feet with incredible rapidity, 
as is related of the dervishes ; others ran their heads against walls, 
or curved their bodies like rope-dancers, so that their heels touch- 
ed tlieir shoulders. 

All this degenerated at length into decided insanity. A certain 
Convulsionnaire, at Vernon, who had formerly led rather a loose 
course of life, employed herself in confessing the other sex ; in 
other places women of this sect were seen imposing exercises of 
penance on priests, during which these were compelled to kneel 
before them. Others played with children's rattles, or drew 
about small carts, and gave to these childish acts symbolical signi- 
fications.^ One Convulsionnaire even made believe to shave her 
chin, and gave religious instruction at the same time, in order to 
imitate Paris, the worker of miracles, who during this operation, 
and whilst at table, was in the habit of preaching. Some had a 
board placed across their bodies, upon which a whole row of men 
stood ; and as, in this unnatural state of mind, a kind of pleasure 
is derived from excruciating pain, some too were seen who caused 
their bosoms to be pinched with tongs, while others, with gowns 
closed at the feet, stood upon their heads, and remained in that 
position longer than would have been possible had they been in 
health. Pinault, the advocate, who belonged to this sect, barked 
like a dog some hours every day, and even this found imitation 
among the believers. 

The insanity of the Convulsionnaires lasted, without interrup- 
tion, until the year 1790, and, during these fifty-nine years, call- 
ed forth more lamentable phenomena than the enlightened spirits 
of the eighteenth century would be willing to allow. The gross- 
est immorality found, in the secret meetings of the believers, a 
sure sanctuary, and, in their bewildering devotional exercises, a 
convenient cloak. It was of no avail that, in the year 1762, the 
Grands Secours was forbidden by act of parliament ; for thence- 

• Arouet, the father of Voltaire, visited, in Nantes, a celebrated Convulsionnaire, 
Gabrielle Mollet, whom he found occupied in pulling the bells off a child's coral, to de- 
signate the rejection of the unbelievers. Sometimes she jumped into the water, and 
barked like a dog. She died in 1748. 


forth this work was carried on in secrecy, and with greater zeal 
than ever -, it was in vain, too, that some physicians, and, among 
the rest, the austere, pious Hecquet,' and after him Lorry,^ at- 
tributed the conduct of the Convulsionnaires to natural causes. 
Men of distinction among the upper classes, as, for instance, 
Montgeron the deputy, and Lambert an ecclesiastic (obt. 1813), 
stood forth as the defenders of this sect ; and the numerous writ- 
ings ^ which were exchanged on the subject, served, by the im- 
portance which they thus attached to it, to give it stability. The 
revolution, finally, shook the structure of this pernicious mysticism. 
It was not, however, destroyed ; for, even during the period of 
the greatest excitement, the secret meetings were still kept up ; 
prophetic books, by Convulsionnaires of various denominations, 
have appeared even in the most recent times, and only a few years 
ago (in 1828) this once celebrated sect still existed, although with- 
out the convulsions and the extraordinarily rude aid of the bre- 
thren of the faith, which, amidst the boasted pre-eminence of 
French intellectual advancement, remind us most forcibly of the 
dark ages of the St. John's dancers.'* 

6. Similar fanatical sects exhibit among all nations^ of ancient 
and modern times the same phenomena. An overstrained bigotry 

1 J. Phil. Hecquet (obiit 1737). Le Naturalisnie des Convulsions. Soleure, 
1733. 8vo. 

~ Be Melancholia et Morbis Melancholicis. Paris, 1765. 2 vols. 8vo. 

3 Especially from 1784 to 1788. 

* See Gregoire, Histoire des Sectes Eeligieuses, tome ii. ch. 13. p. 127. Paris, 
1828. 8vo. The following words of this meritorious author, on the mental state of his 
countrymen, are very well worthy of attention. "L' esprit public est dans un etat de 
fluctuation perseverante : des Cimes ies imr V eg olsme n'ont que le caractere de la 
servitude ; I'education viciee ne forme guere que des etres degrades ; la religion est 
meconnue ou mal enseignee ; la nation jjresente des synqjtdmes alarmans de sa decrepi- 
tude, et presage des malheurs dont on ne peut calculer I'etendue ni la duree." P. 161. 

5 " I had occasion to witness at Cairo another species of religious fanaticism. I 
heard one day, at a short distance from my residence, for several hours together, 
singing, or more properly crying, so uniform and fatiguing, that I inquired the cause 
of this singularity. I was told that it was some dervise or monk, who repeated, while 
dancing on his heels, the name of Allah, till, completely exhausted, lie sank down 
insensible. These unhappy visionaries, in fact, often expire at the end of this holy dance; 
and the cries of the one whom I heard, having commenced in the afternoon, and con- 
tinued during the whole of the night, and part of the following morning, I doubt not 
that his pious enthusiasm cost him his life." — Recollections of Egy23t, by the Baroness 
Von Minutoli. London, 1827. 

In Arabia the same fanatical zeal exists, as we find fi'om the following passage of 
an anonymous history of the Wahabis, published in Paris, in 1810 : "La priere la plus 
meritoire consiste a crier le nom de Dieu, pendant des heures entieres, et le plus saint 
est celui qui repete ce nom le plus long temps et le plus vite. Eien de plus curieux 
que le spectacle des Schekhs, qui, dans les fetes publiques, s'essayent a I'envi, et hmient 
le nom d' Allah d'une maniere eifra3^ante. La plupart enroues sont forces de se taire, 


is, in itself, and considered in a medical point of view, a destruc- 
tive irritation of the senses, which draws men away from the effi- 
ciency of mental freedom, and peculiarly favours the most injuri- 
ous emotions. Sensual ebullitions, with strong convulsions of the 
nerves, appear sooner or later,' and insanity, suicidal disgust of 
life, and incurable nervous disorders,^ are but too frequently the 
consequences of a perverse, and, indeed, hypocritical zeal, which 
has ever prevailed, as well in the assemblies of the Misenades and 
Corybantes of antiquity, as under the semblance of religion among 
the Christians and Mahomedans. 

There are some denominations of English Methodists which sur- 
pass, if possible, the French Convulsionnaires ; and we may here 
mention, in particular, the Jumpers, among whom it is still more 
difficult, than in the example giyen above, to draw the line be- 
tween religious ecstacy and a perfect disorder of the nerves ; 
sympathy, however, operates perhaps more perniciously on thera 
than on other fanatical assemblies. The sect of Jumpers was 
founded in the year 1760, in the county of Cornwall, by two 
fanatics/ who were, even at that time, able to collect together a 
considerable party. Their general doctrine is that of the Method- 
ists, and claims our consideration here, only in so far as it en- 
joins them, during their devotional exercises, to fall into convul- 
sions, which they are able to effect in the strangest manner 
imaginable. By the use of certain unmeaning words, they work 
themselves up into a state of religious frenzy, in which they seem 
to have scarcely any control over their senses. They then begin 
to jump with strange gestures, repeating this exercise with all 
their might, until they are exhausted, so that it not unfrequently 
happens that women, who, like the Mnenades, practise these reli- 
gious exercises, are carried away from the midst of them in a state 
of syncope, whilst the remaining members of the congregations, for 
miles together, on their way home, terrify those whom they meet by 

et abandonnent la palme au saint a forte poitrine, qui, pour jouir de sa victoire, s'efiForce 
et jette encore quelque oris devant ses rivaux reduits au silence. Epuise de fatigue, 
baigne de sueur, il tombe enfin au milieu du peuple devot, qui s'empresse a le relever et 
le porte en triomphe. Les principales mosquees retentissent, tous les Yendredis, des 
cris dictes par cette singuliere emulation. Le Scbekh, que ses poumons ont sanctifie, 
conserve son odeur de saintete par des extases et dts transports, souvent dangereux pour 
les Chretiens que le hazard en rend temoins malgre eux." — Transl. note. 

' For examples see Osiander, Entwickelungski-ankheiten. Loc. eit. p. 45. 

- xVmong 108 cases of insanity. Perfect mentions eleven of mania and metbodistical 
enthusiasm, in nine of which suicide xcas committed. Annals of Insanity. London, 
1808. Svo. 

2 Harris Rowland and William Williams. 


the sight of such demoniacal ravings. There are never more than 
a few ecstatics, who, by their example, excite the rest to jump, 
and these are followed by the greatest part of the meeting, so that 
these assemblages of the Jumpers resemble, for hours together, 
the wildest orgies, rather than congregations met for Christian 

In the United States of Jsorth America, communities of Me- 
thodists have existed for the last sixty years. The reports of 
credible witnesses of their assemblages for divine service in the 
open air (camp meetings),^ to which many thousands flock from 
great distances,^ surpass, indeed, all belief ; for not only do they 
there repeat all the insane acts of the French Convulsionnaires 
and of the English J umpers, but the disorder of their minds and 
of their nerves attains, at these meetings, a still greater height. 
"Women have been seen to miscarry whilst suffering under the 
state of ecstacy and violent spasms into which they are thrown, 
and others have publicly stripped themselves and jumped into the 
rivers. They have swooned away "* by hundreds, worn out with 
ravings and fits ; and of the Barkers, who appeared among the 
Convulsionnaires only here and there, in single cases of complete 
aberration of intellect, whole bands are seen running on all fours, 
and growling ^ as if they wished to indicate, even by their out- 
ward form, the shocking degradation of their human nature. At 
these camp-meetings the children are witnesses of this mad in- 
fatuation, and as their weak nerves are, with the greatest facility, 
afiected by sympathy, they, together with their parents, fall into 
violent fits, though they know nothing of their import, and many 
of them retain for life some severe nervous disorder, which, having 

1 Johfi Eva7is, Sketch of the Deuominations of the Christian "World. 13th edition. 
London, 1814. 12mo. p. 236. — See Gregoire, loc. cit. tome iv. chap. xiii. p. 483. 

- Mrs. Trollope's Domestic Manners of the Americans. A Revival, pp. 108 — 112. 
Shaking Quakers, pp. 195, 196. Camp Meeting, p. 233. London, 2 vols. 1832.— 
Transl. note. 

3 In Kentucky, assemblies of from ten to twelve thousand have frequently taken 
place. Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and New York, are also the theatres of 
these meetings. — Gregoire, tome iv. p. 496. 

* At one of these camp-meetings a traveller saw above eight hundred persons faint 
away. Idem. He nowhere met with more frequent instances of suicide in consequence 
of Demonomania, than in North America. 

5 Idem, p. 498. These are the Barkers. Numerous other convulsive Methodistical 
sects abound in North America. The Shakers, who are inimical to marriage, would 
also have been mentioned, were not their contortions much less violent than those of the 
Jumpers. — See Gregoire, tome v. p. 195. Evans, p. 267. 


arisen from fright and excessive excitement, will not afterwards 
yield to any medical treatment.^ 

But enough of these extravagances, which, even in our own 
days, embitter the lives of so many thousands, and exhibit to the 
world, in the nineteenth century, the same terrific form of men- 
tal disturbance as the St. Vitus's dance once did to the benighted 
nations of the middle ages. 

' See Perrin du Lac, Voyage dans les deux Louisianes. Paris, 1805. 8vo. chap. ix. 
pp. 64, 65. chap. xvii. pp. 128, 129. — MicAai^f?, Voyage a I'oucst dcs Monts AUeghanys. 
Paris, 1804. 8vo. p. 212. — John Melish, Travels in the United States of America. 
Philadelphia, 1812. 8vo. vol. i. p. 26. — Lambert, Travels through Canada and the 
United States, London, 1810. 8vo. vol. iii. p. 44. — John Howison, Sketches of Upper 
Canada. Edinburgh, 1822. 8vo. p. 150. — Edtoard AlUn Talbot, Cinq Annees de 
Residence au Canada. Paris, 1825. Svo. tome ii. p. 147. 



Petri de Herentals, Prioris Ploreffiensis Vita Qregorii XL, in Steplian. 
Baluzii Vitse Paparum Aveniouensium. T. I. Paris, 1693. '^to. p. 

Ejus tempore, videlicet A. D. MCCCLXXV., mira seeta tarn virorum 
quam mulierum venit Aquisgrani de partibus Alamannise, et ascendit 
usque Hanoniam seu Frauciam, cujus talis fuit couditio. Nam homines 
utriusque sexus illudebantur a dsemonio, taliter quod tam in domibus 
quam in plateis et in Ecclesiis se invicem manibus tenentes cborizabant 
et in altum saltabant, ac qusedam nomina d?emoniorum nominabant, 
videlicet FrisTces et similia, nullam cognitionem in bujusmodi cborizatione 
nee verecundiara sui propter astantes populos babentes. Et in fine bu- 
jus cborizationis in tantum circa pectoralia torquebantur, quod nisi map- 
pulis lineis a suis amicis per medium ventris fortiter stringerentui*, 
quasi furiose clamabant se mori. Hi vero in Leodib per conjurationes 
sumptas de illis quse in catecbismo ante baptismum fiunt, a dicmonio 
liberabantur, et sanati dicebant, quod videbatiu' eis ([uod in liora hujus 
cliorizationis er ant in Jiuvio sanguinis, et propterea sic in altum saltahant. 
Yulgus autem apud Leodium dicebat quod bujusmodi plaga populo con- 
tigisset eo quod populus male baptizatus erat, maxime a Presbyteribus 
suas tenentibus concubinas. Et propter boc proposuerat vulgus insur- 
gere in clerum, eos occidendo et bona eorum diripiendo, nisi Deus de 
remedio providisset per conjurationes prsedictas. Quo viso cessavit tem- 
pestas vulgi taliter quod clerus multo plus a populo fuit bonoratus. De 
ista autem cborizatione seu secta talia extant rigmata : 

Oritur in seculo nova qusedam secta 

In gestis aut in speculo visa plus nee lecta. 

Populus tripudiat nimium saltando. 

Se unus alteri sociat Igviter clamando. 

FriscJi frislces cum gaiidio clamat uterque sexus 

Cunctus manutergio et baculo connexus. 

Capite fert pelleum desuper sertum. 

Cernit Maries Jilium et caelum apertum. 


Deorsum prosternitur. Dudum fit ululatus. 

Calcato ventre cernitiir statim liberatus. 

Vagatur loca varia pompose vivendo. 

Mendicat necessaria propriis parcendo. 

Sjjernit videre ruhea et personam Jientem. 

Ad fidei coutraria erigit hie gens mentem. 

Noctis sub vimbraculo ista perpetravit. 

Cum naturali baculo subtus se calcavit. 

Clerum habet odio. Non curat sacramenta. 

Post sunt Leodio remedia iuventa, 

Hauc nam fraudem qua suggessit sathan est convictus. 

Conjuratus evanescit. Hinc sit Christus benedictus. 


Jo. Pistorii Rerum familiarumque Belgicarum Cbronicon magnum. 
Erancof. 1654./oZ. ^j. 319. De chorisantibus. 

Item Anno. Dn. MCCCLXXIV. tempore pontificatus venerabilis 
Domini Joannis de Arckel Episcopi Leodiensis, in mense Julio in cras- 
tino divisionis Apostolorum visi svmt dansatores scilicet chorisantes, qui 
postea venerunt Trajectum, Leodium, Tungrim et alia loca istarum par- 
tium in mense Septembri. Et ccepit baec daemoniaca pestis vexare in 
dictis locis et circumvicinis masculos et foeminas maxime pauperes et 
levis opinionis ad magnum omnium terrorem ; pauci clericorum vel di- 
vitum sunt vexati. Serta in capitibus gestabant, circa ventrem mappa 
cum baculo se stringebant circa lunbilicum, ubi post saltationem cadentes 
nimium torquebantur, et ne creparentur pedibus conculcabantur, vel 
contra creporem cum baculo ad mappam duriter se ligabant, vel cum 
pugno se trudi faciebant, rostra calceorum aliqui clamabant se abhorrere, 
unde in Leodio fieri tunc vetabantur. Ecclesias chorisando occupabant, 
et crescebant numerose de mense Septembri et Octobri, processiones 
fiebant ubique, litanise et missse speciales. Leodii apud Sanctam crucem 
scholaris servitor in vesperis dedicationis, coepit ludere cum thuribulo, et 
post vesperas fortiter saltare. Evocatus a pluribus, ut diceret Pater 
noster, noluit, et Credo respondit in diabolum. Quod videns capel- 
lanus, allata stola conjui'avit eum per exorcismum baj^tizandorum, et 
statim dixit : Ecce inquit, scholaris recedit cum parva toga et calceis 
rostratis. Die, tunc inquit, Pater noster et Credo. At ille utrumque dixit 
perfecte et curatus est. Apud Harstallium uno mane ante omnium 
Sanctorum, multi eorum ibi congregati consilium habuerunt, ut pariter 
venientes omnes canonicos, presby teres et clericos Leodienses occiderent. 
Canonicus quidam parvse mensse minister Simon in claustro Leodiensi 


apud capellam Beatre virgiuis, in Deo coufortatus, scalam projecit in col- 
lum unius, dicens Erangelium : In principio erat verbum, super caput 
ejus, et per hoe fuit liberatus, et pro miraculo statim fuit pulsatum. 
Apud S. Bartolomgeum Leodii, prsesentibus multis, cuidam alii exorci- 
santi respondit daemon : Ego exibo libenter. Expecta, inquit presbyter, 
volo tibi loqui. Et postquam aliquos alios curasset, dixit illi, loquere tu 
personaliter et responde mihi. Turn solus respondit da?mon : Nos 
eramus duo, sed socius ineus nequior me, ante me exivit, habui tot pati 
in hoc coi'pore, si essem extra, nunquam intrareui in corpus Christianura. 
Cui presbyter : Quare intrasti corpora talium personarum ? Eespondit : 
Clerici et presbyteres dicunt tot pulchra verba et tot orationes, ut non 
possemus intrare corpora ipsorum. Si adhuc fuisset expectatum per 
quindenam vel mensem, nos intrassemus corpora divitum, et postea 
principum, et sic per eos destruxissemus clerum. Et hcec fuerunt ibi a 
multis audita efc postea a multis narrata. H?ec pestis intra annum satis 
invaluit, sed postea per tres aut quatuor annos omnino cessavit. 


Die Limburger Cbrouik, herausgegeben von C. D. Vogel. Marburg, 

1828, %vo. s. 71. 

Anno 1374 zu mitten im Sommer, da erbub sicb ein vpunderlicb 
Ding auif Erdreich, und sonderlicb in Teutscben Landen, aufF dem 
Ehein und aufF der Mosel, also dass Leute anbuben zu tantzen und 
zu rasen, und stunden je zwey gegen ein, mid tantzeten aufF einer Statte 
einen halben Tag, und in dem Tantz da fielen sie etwan ofFt nieder, 
und liessen sich mit Eiissen trettenaufF ihren Leib. Davon nabmen sie 
sicb an, dass sie genesen waren. Und liefFen von einer Stadt zu der an- 
dern, und von einer Kircben zu der andern, und huben Geld aufF von 
den Leuten, wo es ibnen mocht gewerden. Und wurd des Dings also 
viel, dass man zu Colin in der Stadt mebr dann flinfF bundert Tantzer 
fand. Und fand man, dass es eine Ketzerey war, und geschabe um 
Grolds willen, das ihr ein Theil Erau und Mann in Unkeuscbbeit 
mocbten kommen, und die vollbringen. Und fand man da zu Colin 
mebr dann bundert Erauen und Dienstmagde, die nicbt ehelicbe Manner 
batten. Die wnarden alle in der Tantzerey Kinder-tragend, und wann 
dass sie tantzeten, so bunden und knebelten sie sich hart um den Leib, 
dass sie desto geringer waren. HieraufF sprachen ein Theils Meister, 
sonderlicb der guten Artzt, das ein Tbeil wurden tantzend, die von 

1 The substance of Nos. III. and IV. having been embodied in the text, it seems 
only necessary to insert here the original old German, which is couched in language too 
coarse to admit of translation. — Transl. note. 



heisser Natur wiiren, iiud vou andern gebrechlichen natiirlichen Sachen. 
Dann deren war Avenig, deneu das geschahe. Die Meister von der hei- 
ligen Schrift, die beschwohren der Tautzer eiu Theil, die meynten, dass 
sie besessen waren von dem bosen G-eist. Also nabm es ein betrogen 
End, und wahrete wohl secbszehn Wcchen in diesen Landen oder in der 
Mass. Auch nahmen die vorgenannten Tantzer Mann iind Frauen sicb 
an, dass sie kein roth sehen mochten. Und Avar ein eitel Teuscherey, 
und ist verbottscbaft gewesen an Christum nach meinem Bediinkeu. 


Die Chronica van der hilligcr Stat van Coellen. A. D. MCCCLXXIV. 
fol. 277. Coellen, 1499. fol. 

In dem selueu iair stonde eyn groisse kranckheit vp vnder den myn- 
schen, ind was doeh niet vill me gesyen dese selue kranckheit vur off 
nae ind quam van natuerlichen ursachen as die meyster schrijuen, ind 
noemen Sij nianiam, dat is raserie off unsynnicheit, Ind vill lude beyde 
man ind frauwen junck ind alt hadden die kranckheit. Ind gyngen 
vyss huyss ind hoff, dat deden ouch junge meyde, die verliessen yr 
alderen, vrunde ind maege ind lantschaff. Disse vurss mynschen zo 
etzlichen tzijden as Sij die kranckheit anstiesse, so hadden Sij eyn won- 
derlich bewegung yrre lychamen. Sij gauen vyss kryschende vnd 
grusame stymme, ind n)it dem wurpen Sij sich haestlich up die erden, 
vnd gyngen Hggen up yren rugge, ind beyde man ind vrauwen moist 
men vmb }Ten buy eh ind vmp leuden gurdelen vnd kneuelen mit twelen 
vnd mit starcken breyden benden, asso stijff" vnd harte als men 

Item asso gegurt mit den tAvelen dantzten Sij in kyrchen ind in 
clusen ind vp alien gewijeden steden. As Sij dantzten, so spruugen 
Sij allit vp ind rieften, Here sent Johan, so so, vrisch ind vro here sent 

Item die ghene die die kranckheit hadden wurden gemeynlichen 
gesunt bynnen. W. dagen. Zom lesten geschiede vill bouerie vnd 
droch dae mit. E^Tideyll naemen sich an dat Sij kranck weren. vp dat 
Sij mochten gelt dae durch bedelen. Die anderen vinsden sich kranck 
vp dat Sij mochten vnkuyschheit bedrijuen mit den vrauwen. jnd gyn- 
gen durch alle lant ind dreuen vill bouerie. Doch zo lesten brach idt 
vyss ind wurden verdreuen vyss den landen. Die selue dentzer quamen 
ouch zo Coellen tusschen tzwen vnser lieuen frauAven missen Assump- 
tionis ind Natiuitatis. 



In the third volume of the Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal, 
p. 434, there is an account of " some convulsive diseases in certain parts 
of Scotland," which is taken from Sir J. Sinclair's statistical account, 
and from which I have thought it illustrative of our author's subject to 
make some extracts ; the first that is noticed is peculiar to a part of 
Forfarshire, and is called the leaping ague, which bears so close an 
analogy to the original St. Vitus's Dance, or to Tarantism, that it seems 
to want only the "foul fiend," or the dreaded bite, as a cause, and a 
Scotch reel or strathspey as a cure, to render the resemblance quite com- 
plete. " Those afiected with it first complain of a pain in the head, or 
lower part of the back, to which succeed convulsive fits, or Jits of dancing, 
at certain periods. During the paroxysm they have all the appearance 
of madness, distorting their bodies in various ways, and leaping and 
springing in a surprising manner, whence the disease has derived its 
vulgar name. Sometimes they run with astonishing velocity, and often 
over dangerous passes, to some place out of doors, which they have 
fixed on in their own minds, or, perhaps, even mentioned to those in 
company with them, and then drop down quite exliausted. At other 
times, especially when confined to the house, they climb in the most 
singular manner. In cottages, for example, they leap froin the floor to 
what is called the baulks, or those beams by which the rafters are 
joined together, springing form one to another wdth the agility of a cat, 
or whirling round one of them, with a motion resembling the fly of a 
jack. Cold bathing is found to be the most eflectual remedy ; but when 
j;he fit of dancing, leaping, or running comes on, nothing tends so much 
to abate the violence of the disease, as allowing them free scope to exercise 
themselves, till nature he exhausted. No mention is made of its being 
pecidiar to any age, sex, or condition of life, although I am informed by 
a gentleman from Brechin, that it is most common before puberty. In 
some families it seems to be hereditary ; and I have heard of one, in 
which a horse Avas always kept ready saddled, to follow the young 
ladies belonging to it, when they were seized with a fit of running. It 
was first observed in the parish of Kenmuir, and has prevailed occasion- 
ally in that and the neighbouring parishes, for about seventy years : but 
it is not now nearly so frequent as it was about thirty years ago. The 
history of this singular affection is still extremely imperfect : and it is 
only from some of the medical practitioners in that part of the country 
where it prevails, that a complete description can be expected." 

Our author has already noticed the convulsive disease prevalent in the 
Shetland Islands, and has quoted Hibbert's account of it. The follow- 
ing, however, from a very valuable manuscript account of the Orkney 



and Slietlaad Islands, drawn up about 1774, by G-eorge Low, with notes, 
by Mr. Pennant, is given in the journal already cited, and will be read 
with interest. The facts were communicated to Mr. Low by the E-ev. 
"Wm. Archibald, parochial clergyman of Unst, the most northerly of the 

" There is a most shocking distemper, which has of late years pre- 
vailed very much, especially among young women, and was hardly 
known thirty or forty years ago. About that period only one person 
was subject to it. The inhabitants gave it the name of convulsion fits ; 
and, indeed, in appearance it something resembles epilepsy. In its first 
rise it began with a palpitation of the heart, of which they complained 
for a considerable time ; it at length produced swooning fits, in which 
people seized with it would lie motionless upwards of an hour. At 
length, as the distemper gathered strength, when any violent passion 
seized, or on a sudden surprise, they would all at once fall down, toss 
their arms about, with their bodies, into many odd shapes, crying out all 
the while, most dismally, throwing their heads about from side to side, 
with their eyes fixed and staring. At first this distemper obtained, in a 
j)rivate way, with one female, but she being seized in a public Avay, at 
church, the disease was communicated to others ; but, whether by the 
influence oifear or sympathy, is not easy to determine. However this 
was, our public assemblies, especially at church, became greatly dis- 
turbed by their ovitcries. This distemper always prevails most violently 
during the summer time, in which season, for many years, we are hardly 
one sabbath free. In these few years past, it has not prevailed so ex- 
tensively, and upon the whole, seems on the decline. One thing re- 
markable in this distemper is, that as soon as the fit is over, the j^ersons 
aftected with it are generally as lively and brisk as before ; and if it 
happens at any of their public diversions, as soon as they revive, they 
mix with their companions, and continue their amusement as vigorously 
as if nothing had happened. Few men are troubled with this distemper, 
which seems more confined to women ; but there are instances of its 
seizing men, and girls of six years of age. AVith respect to the nature 
of this disease, people who have made inquiry about it difier, but most 
imagine it hj^sterical ; however, this seems not entirely the case, as men 
and children are subject to it ; however, it is a new disease in Shetland, 
but whence impoi'ted, none can imagine. 

" When the statistical account of this parish was published, this aw- 
ful and afilicting disease was becoming daily less common. In the 
parishes of Aithsting, Sandsting, and Xorthraaven, in which it was once 
very frequent, it was now totally extinct. In the last of these the 
cure is said to have been effected by a very singular remedy, which, if 
true, and there seems no reason to doubt it, shows the influence of 
moral causes in removing, as well as inducing, convulsive disorders." 
The cure is attributed to a rough fellow of a kirk oflicer, who tossed a 



woman in tliat state, with whom he had been frequently troubled, into 
a ditch of water. She was never known to have the disease afterwards, 
and others dreaded the same treatment. 

It, however, still prevails in some of the northern parishes, particu- 
larly in Delting, although, according to the description given of it, with 
some alteration in its symptoms. 

" Convulsion fits of a very extraordinary kind seem peculiar to this 
country. The patient is first seized with something like fainting, and 
immediately after utters wild cries and shrieks, the sound of which, at 
whatever distance, immediately puts all who are subject to the disorder 
in the same situation. It most commonly attacks them when the 
church is crowded, and often interrupts the service in this and many 
other churches in the country. On a sacramental occasion, fifty or 
sixty are sometimes carried out of the church, and laid in the church- 
yard, where they struggle and roar with all their strength, for five or ten 
minutes, and then rise up without recollecting a single circumstance 
that happened to them, or being in the least hurt or fatigued with the 
violent exertions they had made during the fit. One observation occurs 
on this disorder, that, during the late scarce years it was very uncom- 
mon, and, during the two last years of plenty (1791), it has appeared 
more frequently. 

" Similar instances of epidemical convulsions are already upon record ; 
but the history of that which occurred in Anglesea, North Wales, is the 
most remarkable, as its progress was, in all probability, checked by the 
judicious precautions recommended by Dr. Hay garth. • 

" In 1796, on the estates of the Earl of Uxbridge and Holland Grif- 
fith, Esq., 23 females, from 10 to 25, and one boy, of about 17 years of 
age, who had all intercourse with each other, were seized with an un- 
usual kind of convulsions, affecting only the upper extremities. It began 
with pain of the head, and sometimes of the stomach and side, not very 
violent ; after which there came on violent twitchings or convulsions of 
the upper extremities, continuing, with little intermission, and causing 
the shoulders almost to meet by the exertion. In bed the disorder was 
not so violent : but, in some cases at least, it continued even during 
sleep. Their pulse was moderate, the body costive, and the general 
health not much impaired. In general they had a hiccough ; and, 
when the convulsions were most violent, giddiness came on, with the 
loss of hearing and recollection. During their convalescence, and they 
all recovered, the least fright or sudden alarm brought on a slight 

" Dr. Haygarth, who was consulted on the means of relieving these 
unfortunate people, successfully recommended the use of antispasmodics; 
that all girls and young women should be prevented from having any 
communication with persons affected with those convulsions ; and that 
those who were ill should be kept separate as much as possible." 


The same paper from which the above extracts have been taken, 
quotes a remarkable instance in which religious enthusiasm was the ex- 
citing cause of a convulsive disease analogous to those already noticed. 
The account is given by the Eev. Dr. Meik, at great length. It ap- 
pears that in January, 1742, about 90 persons in the parish of Cam- 
buslang, in Lanarkshire, were induced to subscribe a petition to the 
minister, urgiiig him to give them a weekly lecture, to which he readily 
assented. Nothing particular occurred at the first two lectures, but, at 
the third, to which the hearers had been very attentive, when the minis- 
ter in his last prayer expressed himself thus, " Lord, who hath believed 
our report ; and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed ? — where are 
the fruits of my poor labours among this people?" several persons in 
the congregation cried out publicly, and about fifty men and women 
came to the minister's house, expressing strong convictions of sin, and 
alarming fears of punishment. After this period, so many people from 
the neighbourhood resorted to Cambuslang, that the minister thought 
himself obliged to provide them with daily sermons or exhortations, and 
actually did so for seven or eight months. The way in which the con- 
verts were affected, for it seems they were affected much in the same 
way, though in very different degrees, is thus described. " They were 
seized, all at once, commonly by something said in the sermons or 
prayers, with the most dreadful apprehensions concerning the state of 
their souls, insomuch that many of them could not abstain from crying 
out, in the most public and frightful manner, ' bewailing their lost and 
undone condition by nature ; calling themselves enemies to God, and 
despisers of precious Christ ; declaring that they were unworthy to live 
on the face of the earth ; that they saw the mouth of hell open to 
receive them, and that they heard the shrieks of the damned ; ' but the 
universal cry was, ' AVhat shall we do to be saved ? ' The agony under 
which they laboured was expressed, not only by words, but also by vio- 
lent agitations of body ; by clapping their hands and beating their 
breasts ; by shaking and trembling ; by faintings and convulsions ; and 
sometimes by excessive bleeding at the nose. While they were in this 
distress, the minister often called out to them, not to stifle or smother 
their convictions, but to encourage them : and, after sermon was ended, 
he retired with them to the manse, and frequently spent the best part 
of the night with them in exhortations and prayers. Kext day, before 
sermon began, they were brought out, and, having napkins tied round 
their heads, were placed all together on seats before the tents, where they 
remained sobbing, weeping, and often crying aloud, till the service was 
over. Some of those who fell under conviction were never converted ; 
but most of those who fell under it were converted in a few days, and 
sometimes in a few hours. In most cases their conversion was as sud- 
den and unexpected as their conviction. They were raised all at once 
from the lowest depth of sorrow and distress, to the highest pitch of 


joy and happiness ; crying out with triumph and exultation, ' that they 
had overcome the wicked one ; that they had gotten hold of Christ, and 
would never let him go ; that the black cloud which had hitherto con- 
cealed him from their view, was now dispelled ; and that they saw him, 
with a pen in his hand, blotting out their sins.' Under these delightful 
impressions, some began to pray, and exhort publicly, and others desired 
the congregation to join with them in singing a particular psalm, which 
they said Grod had commanded them to sing. From the time of their con- 
viction to their conversion, many had no appetite for food, or inclination 
to sleep, and all complained of their sufferings during that interval." 

The following account, which closes the paper whence the above quot- 
ations have been extracted, is taken from an Inaugural Essay on Chorea 
Sancti Viti, by Felix Robertson of Tennessee, 8vo. Philadelph. 1805. 

" The Chorea, which is more particularly the subject of this disserta- 
tion, made its appearance during the summer of 1803, in the neighbour- 
hood of Maryville (Tennessee), in the form of an epidemic. Previously 
to entering on its history, I think it necessary to premise a few cursory 
remarks on the mode of life of those amongst whom it originated, for 
some time before the appearance of the disease. 

" I suppose there are but few individuals in the United States who 
have not at least heard of the unparalleled blaze of enthusiastic religion 
which burst forth in the western country, about the year 1800 ; but it 
is, perhaps, impossible to have a competent idea of its effects, without 
personal observation. This religious enthusiasm travelled like elec- 
tricity, with astonishing velocity, and was felt, almost iiisfantaiieouslj/, 
in every part of the states of Tennessee and Kentucky. It often proved 
so powerful a stimulus, that every other entirely lost its effect, or was 
but feebly felt. Hence that general neglect of earthly things, which 
was observed, and the almost perpetual attendance at places of public 
worship. Their churches are, in general, small and every way uncom- 
fortable ; the concourse of people, on days of worship, particularly of 
extraordinary meetings, was very numerous, and hundreds who lived at 
too great a distance to return home every evening, came supplied with 
provisions, tents, &c., for their sustenance and accommodation, daring 
the continuance of the meeting, which commonly lasted from three to 
five days. They, as well as many others, remained on the spot day and 
night, the whole or greater part of this time, worshipping their Maker 
almost incessantly. The outward expressions of their worship consisted 
chiefly in alternate crying, laugliing, singing, and shouting, and, at the 
same time, performing that variety of gesticulation, which the muscular 
system is capable of producing. It was under these circumstances that 
some found themselves unable, by voluntary efforts, to suppress the 
contraction of their muscles ; and, to their own astonishment, and the 
diversion of many of the spectators, they continued to act from necessity, 
the curious character which they had commenced from choice. 


" The disease no sooner appeared, tlian it spread -with rapidity through 
the medium of the principle of imitation ; thus it was not uncommon for 
an affected person to communicate it to the greater part of a crowd, who, 
from curiosity or other motives, had collected around him. It is at this 
time in almost every part of Tennessee and Kentucky, and in various 
parts of Virginia, but is said not to be contagious (or readily commu- 
nicated), as at its commencement. It attacks both sexes, and every con- 
stitution, but evidently more readily those who are enthusiasts in reli- 
gion, such as those above described, and females ; children of six years of 
age, and adults of sixty, have been known to have it, but a great majority 
of those affected are from fifteen to twenty-five. The muscles generally 
affected are those of the trunk, particularly of the neck, sometimes those 
of the superior extremities, but very rarely, if evei% those of the inferior. 
The contractions are sudden and violent, such as are denominated con- 
vulsive, being sometimes so powerful, when in the muscles of the back, 
that the patient is thrown on the ground, where for some time his mo- 
tions more resemble those of a live fish when thrown on land, than any- 
thing else to which I can compare them. 

" This, however, does not often occur, and never, I believe, except at 
the commencement of the disease. The patients, in general, are capable 
of standing and'walking, and many, after it has continued a short time, 
can attend to their business, provided it is not of a nature requiring 
much steadiness of body. They are incapable of conversing with any 
degree of satisfaction to themselves or company, being continually in- 
terrupted by those irregular contractions of their muscles, each causing 
a grunt, or forcible expiration ; but the organs of speech do not appear 
to be aftected, nor has it the least influence on the mind. They have 
no command over their actions by any effort of volition, nor does their 
lying in bed prevent them, but they always cease during sleep. This 
disease has remissions and exacerbations, which, however, observe no 
regularity in their occurrence or duration. During the intermission a 
paroxysm is often excited at the sight of a person affected, but more fre- 
quently by the common salute of shaking hands. The sensations of the 
patients in a paroxysm are generally agreeable, which the enthusiastic 
class often endeavour to express, by laughing, shouting, dancing, &c. 

" Fatigue is almost always complained of after violent paroxysms, 
and sometimes a general soreness is experienced. The heart and arte- 
ries appear to be no further affected by the disease, than what arises 
from the exercise of the body ; nor does any change take place in any 
of the secretions or excretions. It has not proved mortal in a single in- 
stance within my knowledge, but becomes lighter by degrees, and 
finally disappears. In some cases, however, of long continuance, it is 
attended with some degree of melancholia, which seems to arise en- 
tirely from the patient's reflections, and not directly from the disease. 

" The state of the atmospliere has no influence over it, as it rages 


"with equal violence in summer and in winter ; in moist and in 
dry air." 

In the above examples, nervous disorders, bearing a strong resem- 
blance to those of the middle ages, are shown to exist in an epidemic 
form, both in Europe and America, at the present time ; but in these 
instances some general cause of mental excitement — and none is more 
powerful than religious enthusiasm — seems to have been requisite for 
their propagation. Their appearance, however, in single cases, is occa- 
sionally independent of any such origin, which leads to a belief, not 
without support in the experiments of modern physiologists, that they 
occasionally proceed from physical causes, and that it is therefore not 
necessary to consider them in all cases as the offspring of a disordered 

A well-marked case of a disease approximating to the original Dancing 
Mania, is related by Mr. Kinder Wood, in the 7th volume of the Me- 
dico-Chirurgical Transactions, p. 237. The patient, a young married 
woman, is described to have suffered from headache and sickness, to- 
gether with involuntary motions of the eyelids, and most extraordinary 
contortions of the trunk and extremities, for several days, when the 
more remarkable symptoms began to manifest themselves, which are 
thus recorded : — 

" February 26. Slight motions of the limbs came on in bed. She 
arose at nine o'clock, after which they increased, and became unusually 
severe. She was hurled from side to side of the couch-chair upon which 
she sat, for a considerable time, without intermission ; was sometimes 
instantaneously and forcibly thrown upon her feet, when she jumped 
and stamped violently. She had headache ; the eyelids were frequently 
affected, and she had often a sudden propensity to spring or leap up- 
wards. The affection ceased about eleven o'clock in the forenoon, the 
patient being very much fatigued ; but it returned about noon, and a 
third time in the afternoon, when she was impelled into every corner of 
the room, and began to strike the furniture and doors violently with 
the hand, as she passed near them, the sound of which afforded her great 
satisfaction. The fourth attack was at night ; was very violent, and 
ended with sickness and vomiting. She went to bed at half-past eleven. 
Her nights were invariably good. The last three attacks were more vio- 
lent than the former ones, but they continued only half an hour each. 

" February 27. The attack commenced in bed, and was violent, but 
of short duration. AVhen she arose about ten, she^had a second attack, 
continuing an hour, except an interval of five minutes. She now struck 
the furniture more violently and more repeatedly. Kneeling on one 
knee, with the hands upon the back, she often sprang up suddenly and 
struck the top of the room with the palm of the hand. To do this, she 
rose fifteen inches from the floor, so that the family were under the ne- 
cessity of drawing all the nails and hooks from the ceiling. She fre- 


queutly danced upon one leg, holding the other with the hand, and 
occasionally changing the legs. In the evening, the family observed the 
blows upon the furniture to be more continuous, and to assume the 
regular time and measure of a musical air. As a strain or series of 
strokes was concluded, she ended with a more violent stroke or a more 
violent spring or jump. Several of her friends also at this time noticed 
the regular measure of the strokes, and the greater regularity the disease 
was assuming ; the motions being evidentl}'' affected, or in some measure 
modified, by the strokes upon the surrounding bodies. She chiefly struck 
a small slender door, the top of a chest of drawers, the clock, a table, or 
a wooden screen placed near the door. The aftection ceased about nine 
o'clock, when the patient went to bed. 

" February 28. She arose very well at eight. At half-past nine the 
motions recommenced : they were now of a more pleasant nature ; the 
involuntary actions, instead of possessing their former irregularity and 
violence, being changed into a measured step over the room, connected 
with an air, or series of strokes, and she beat upon the adjacent bodies 
as she passed them. In the commencement of the attack, the lips 
moved as if words were articulated, but no sound could be distinguished 
at this period. It was curious indeed to observe the patient at this 
time, moving around the room with all the vivacity of the country dance, 
or the graver step of the minuet, the arms frequently carried, not merely 
with ease, but with elegance. Occasionally all the steps were so di- 
rected as to place the foot constantly where the stone flags joined to 
form the floor, particularly when she looked downwards. When she 
looked upwards, there was an irresistible impulse to spring up to touch 
little spots or holes in the top of the ceiling ; Avhen she looked around, 
she had a similar propensity to dart the forefinger into little holes in the 
furniture, &c. One hole in the wooden screen received the point of the 
forefinger many hundred times, which was suddenly and involuntarily 
darted into it with an amazing rapidity and precision. There was one 
particular part of the wall to which she frequently danced, and there, 
placing herself with the back to it, stood two or three minutes. This 
by the f\\mily was called ' the 7ncasuring place.'' 

" In the afternoon the motions returned, and proceeded much as in 
the morning. At this time a person present, surprised at the manner 
in which she beat upon the doors, &c., and thinking he recognised the 
air, without further ceremony began to sing the tune ; the moment this 
struck her ears, she turned suddenly to the man, and dancing directly 
up to him, continued doing so till he was out of breath. The man now 
ceased a short time, when commencing again, he continued tiU the at- 
tack stopped. The night before this, her father had mentioned his wish 
to procure a drum, associating this dance of his daughter with some 
ideas of music. The avidity with which she danced to the tune when 
sung as above stated, confirmed this wish, and accordingly a drum and 


fife were procured in the evening. After two hours of rest, the motions 
again reappeared, when the drum and fife began to play the air to which 
she had danced before, A'iz. the ' Protestant Boys,' a favourite popular 
air in this neighbourhood. In whatever part of the room she happened 
to be, she immediately turned and danced up to the drum, and as close 
as possible to it, and there she danced till she missed the step, when 
the involuntary motions instantl}' ceased. The first time she missed the 
step in five minutes ; but again rose, and danced to the drum two mi- 
nutes and a half by her father's watch, when, missing the step, the mo- 
tions instantly ceased. She rose a third time, and missing the step in 
half a minute, the motions immediately ceased. After this, the drum 
and fife commenced as the involuntary actions were coming on, and be- 
fore she rose from her seat ; and four times they completely checked 
the progress of the attack, so that she did not rise upon the floor to 
dance. At this period the affection ceased for the evening. 

" March 1. She arose very well at half-past seven. Upon my visit 
this morning, the circumstances of the preceding afternoon being stated, 
it appeared clear to me that the attacks had been shortened. Slow as I 
had seen the effects of medicine in the comparatively trifling disease of 
young females, I was very willing that the family should pursue the 
experiment, whilst the medical means were continued. 

" As I wished to see the effect of the instrument over the disease, I 
was sent for at noon, when I found her dancing to the drum, which she 
continued to do for half an hour without missing the step, owing to the 
slowness of the movement. As I sat counting the pulse, which I found 
to be 120, in the short intervals of an attack, I noticed motions of the 
lips, previous to the commencement of the dance, and placing my ear 
near the mouth I distinguished a tune. After the attack, of whicli 
this was the beginning, she informed me, in answer to my inquiry, that 
there always was a tune dwelling upon her mind, which at times be- 
coming more pressing, irresistibly impelled her to commence the in- 
voluntary motions. The motions ceased at four o'clock. 

" At half-past seven the motions commenced again, when I was sent 
for. There were two drummers present, and an unbraced drum was 
beaten till the other was bxaced. She danced regularly to the unbraced 
drum, but the moment the other commenced she instantly ceased. As 
missing the time stopped the affections, I wished the measure to be 
changed during the dance, which stopped the attack. It also ceased 
upon increasing the rapidity of the beat, till she could no longer keep 
time ; and it was truly surprising to see the rapidity and violence of the 
muscular exertion, in order to keep time with the increasing movement 
of the instrument. Five times I saw her sit down the same evening, at 
the instant that she was unable to keep the measure ; and in conse- 
quence of this I desired the drummers to beat one continued roll, in- 
stead of a regular movement. She arose and danced five minutes, when 


both drums beat a continued roll : the motions instantly stopped, and the 
patient sat down. In a few minutes the motions commencing again, she 
was suffered to dance five minutes, when the drums again began to roll, 
the effect of which was instantaneous ; the motions ceased, and the pa- 
tient sat down. In a few minutes the same was repeated with the same 
effect. It appeared certain that the attacks could now be stopped in an 
instant, and I w^as desirous of arresting them entirely, and breaking the 
chain of irregular associations which constituted the disease. As the 
motions at this period always commenced in the fingers, and propagated 
themselves along the upper extremities to the trunk, I desired the drum- 
mers, when the patient arose to dance, to watch the commencement of 
the attack, and roll the drums before she arose from the chair. Six 
times successively the patient was hindered from rising, by attending to 
the commencement of the affection ; and before leaving the house, I de- 
sired the family to attend to the commencement of the attacks, and use 
the drum early. 

" March 2. She arose at seven o'clock, and the motions commenced 
at ten ; she danced twice before the drummer was prepared, after which 
she attempted to dance again four several times ; but one roll of a well- 
braced drum hindered the patient from leaving her seat, after which the 
attacks did not recur. She was left weakly and fatigued by the disease, 
but with a good appetite. In the evening of this day an eruption ap- 
peared, particularly about the elbows, in diffused patches of a bright 
red colour, which went off on the third day." 

Other cases might be adduced (see 23rd vol. of the Edinburgh Medical 
and Surgical Journal, p. 261 ; 31st vol. of ditto, p. 299 ; 5th vol. of the 
Medico- Chirurgical Transactions, pp. lto23, &c.), but as there is none 
more striking than this, they would unnecessarily swell this number of 
the Appendix, which has already extended to an undue length. 




Magness. de Arte magnetica. Horn. 1654. foh p. 591. — Bepeated in 
Sam. Hafenreff'er, Nosodocliium, in quo cutis ajfectus traduntur. 
Ulm. 1660. Svo. p. 485. 

I. Primus modus Tarantella. 


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Cordi li chianti, sospiri, e duluri : 
Eosa e lu Cori miu feritu a morti : 
Strali e lu ferru, chiai so li miei arduri : 
Marteddu e lu pensieri, e la mia sorti : 
Mastra e la Donna mia, ch'a tutti I'hui-i 
Cantando canta leta la mia mcrti. 

Some strophes, which are no longer extant, were usually sung be- 
tween these and the following lines : — 

AUu mari mi portati, 

Se Yoleti che mi sanati. 

Allu mari, alia via : 

Cosi m'ama la Donna mia. 

Allu mari, allu mari : 

Mentre campo, t'aggio amari. 


VI. Tarantella. 


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11 * 


The present work is a continuation of my treatises on collateral 
subjects, and, like thera, maintains the opinion, that great epi- 
demics are epochs of development, wherein the mental energies of 
mankind are exerted in every direction. The history of the world 
bears indisputable testimony to this fact. The tendencies of the 
mind, the turn of thought of whole ages, have frequently depended 
on prevailing diseases ; for nothing exercises a more potent influ- 
ence over man, either in disposing him to calmness and submission, 
or in kindling in him the wildest passions, than the proximity of 
inevitable and universal danger. Often have infatuation and 
fanaticism, hatred and revenge, engendered by an overwhelming 
fear of death, spread fire and flames throughout the world. 
Famine and diseases, among which may be instanced the fiery 
plague of St. Anthony, were no less powerful in calling forth the 
chivalrous spirit of the crusades than the enthusiastic eloquence of 
Peter the Hermit — the Black Death brought thousands to the 
stake, and aroused the fearful penances of the Flagellants — while 
the oriental leprosy cast a gloomy shade over society throughout 
the whole course of the middle ages. 

"With all such commotions, the most striking events of the 
world arc in intimate relation, and unquestionably, amid the 
changing forms of existence in the human race, more has always 
depended on the prevailing tone of thought than on the rude 
powers by which those events were produced. The historian, 
therefore, who would investigate the hidden influence of mind, 
cannot dispense with medical research. The facts themselves con- 
vince him of the organic union of the corporeal and the spiritual 
in all human afiairs, and consequently of the innate vital con- 
nexion of all human knowledge. Hence, in a medical point of 
view, how vast is the field for observation presented by the history 


of popular diseases. Present bodily sufferings ' are, collectively, 
but a step in the development, — but one phase of morbid life 
amid a long series of phenomena, and hence are not fully under- 
stood without a previous knowledge of the past, and historical 
research. How can we recognise the ring of Saturn as such, so 
long as our axis of vision is in its plane, and we see it only as a 
line. Great pestilences have vanished or been dispersed ; from 
causes apparently the most insignificant, the most important con- 
sequences have resulted, and throughout the vicissitudes of danger 
and devastation, the operations of mighty laws of nature are every- 
where manifested in the social tendencies of entire centuries. 

This is no aerial realm of transitory conjectures — facts them- 
selves speak in a thousand reminiscences. If we do but investigate 
the past with unprejudiced assiduity — if we do but consider even 
the few successful researches which have hitherto been made in 
historical pathology (perhaps those who are kindly disposed will 
recognise even mine"), we shall not fail to arrive at a centre of 
reality, which the healing art, to its great detriment, has hitherto 
been far from reaching, whilst it has occasionally penetrated into 
a less fertile soil, or even encumbered itself with the accumulated 
rubbish of the pedantic dogmas of the schools. 

The state, which founds its legislation on a knowledge of 
realities, which expects from the physical sciences information 
respecting human life collectively, considered in all its relations, 
has a right to demand from its physicians a general insight into 
the nature and causes of popular diseases. Such an insight, how- 
ever, as is worthy the dignity of a science, cannot be obtained b}' 
the observation of isolated epidemics, because nature never in an}^ 
one of them displays herself in all her bearings, nor brings into 
action, at one time, more than a few of the laws of general disease. 
One generation, however rich it may be in stores of important 
knowledge, is never adequate to establish, on the foundation of 
actually observed phenomena, a doctrine of popular diseases worthy 
of the name. The experience of all ages is the source whence we 
must in this case draw, and medical investigation is the only road 
which leads to this source, unless, indeed, we would be unprepared 
to meet new epidemics, and would maintain the unfounded opinion 
that medical science, as it now exists, is the full result of all pre- 
ceding efforts. 

1 The author seems to me here to alhide to what Sydenham calls the " constitutio 
epidemica," as if he 'would say, " The epidemic constitution, as it exists at any one time, 
is but a step," &c. 


An insight, not only into general visitations of disease, which 
in the course of ages have appeared in divers forms, but also into 
every single disease, whether it occurs in intimate connexion with 
others or not, is rendered more distinct by a knowledge of the 
contemporary circumstances which attend its development. I 
would fain hope, therefore, that the future research and diligence 
of phj'sicians, devoted to the pursuit of truth and science, will be 
more generall}' directed to historical investigation ; and that 
imiversities and academies will concede to it that prominent place 
which, from its high importance as an extensive branch of natural 
philosophy, it justly demands. 

AVhether the following inquiry into one of the most remarkable 
diseases on record corresponds with these views, I must leave my 
readers to judge. The historian will discern what social feelings 
are produced among nations by great events, and to the physician 
a picture of suffering will be unveiled, to which the diseases of the 
present time afford no parallel. I have throughout kept in view 
the spirit and the dignity of the sixteenth century, which was as 
remarkable for military triumphs as for tragic events ; and I look 
with confidence for the same indulgence and goodwill now, which, 
through the kindness of friends, I have already enjoyed both at 
home and abroad, in a higher degree than my sincere gratitude 
can find words to express. 




" Sound drums and trumpets, boldly and cheerfully, 
God and Saint George ! Richmond and victory ! "— Shakspeaee. 

Sect. 1.— Eruption. 

After the fate of England liad been decided by the battle of 
Bosworth, on the 22nd of August, 1485,' the joy of the nation was 
clouded by a mortal disease which thinned the ranks of the Vv'ar- 
riors, and following in the rear of Henry's victorious army, spread 
in a few weeks from the distant mountains of "Wales to the me- 
tropolis of the empire. It was a violent inflammatory fever, 
which, after a short rigor, prostrated the powers as with a blow ; 
and amidst painful oppression at the stomach, head-ache, and 
lethargic stupor, suffused the whole body with a fetid perspiration. 
All this took place in the course of a few hours, and the crisis was 
always over within the space of a day and night. ^ The internal 
heat which the patient suffered was intolerable, yet every refriger- 
ant was certain death. -The people were seized with consterna- 
tion when they saw that scarcely one in a hundred escaped,^ and 
their first impression was that a reign commencing with such 
horrors would doubtless prove most inauspicious.* 

1 Grafton, Vol. II. pp. 147. 155. 2 jjall, p. 425. 

3 For suddenlie a deadlie burning sweat so assailed their bodies and distempered 
tbeir blood with a most ardent heat, that scarce otie amongst ati hundred that sickened 
did escape with life ; for all in manor as soone as the sweat tooke them, or within a 
short time after, yeelded the ghost. Holinshed, Vol. III. p. 482. Godwin, p. 98. 
Polydor. Vergilius, L. XXVI. p. 567. Wood, T. I. A. 1485. p. 233. Wood takes 
his testimony respecting the symptoms of the disease at third hand from Carol. Va- 
lesiiis (Cap. XIV. p. 226), a French physician at Rome, about 1650, who employs 
P. Foreesfs words. This last author, however, did not himself observe the English 
sweating sickness. 

* Bacon, p. 36. 


At first tlie new foe was scarcely heeded ; citizens and peasants 
went in joyful processions to meet the victorious army. Henry's 
march, from Bosworth towards London resembled a triumph, 
which was everywhere celebrated by festivals ; for the nation, 
after its many j^ears of civil war, looked forward to happier days 
than they had enjoyed under the blood-thirsty Richard. 

Very shortly, however, after the king's entry into the capital 
on the 28th of August,^ the Sweating Sickness,^ as the disease 
was called, began to spread its ravages among the densely peo- 
pled streets of the city. Two lord mayors and six aldermen died 
within one week,^ having scarcely laid aside their festive robes ; 
many who had been in perfect health at night, were on the fol- 
lowino^ mornino: numbered among: the dead. The disease for the 
most part marked for its victims robust and vigorous men ; and as 
many noble families lost their chiefs, extensive commercial houses 
their principals, and wards their guardians, the festivities were 
soon converted into grief and mourning. The coronation of the 
king, which was expected to overcome the scruples that many 
entertained of his right to the throne, was of necessity postponed 
in this general distress,'' and the disease, in the mean time, spread 
without interruption and over the whole kingdom from east to 

It is agreed thatithe pestilence did not commence till the very 
beginning of August, 1485, and was in obvious connexion with 
the circumstances of the times. To return to their native country 
had long been the ardent desire of the Earl of Richmond and his 
faithful followers. At the age of 15 (1471), having escaped the 
vengeance of the House of York, and the assassins of Edward, he 
was overtaken by a storm, and fell into the hands of Francis II., 
Duke of Bretagne, who long detained him prisoner, but on the 
death of Edward, in 1483, supplied him with means to enforce 
his claims to the English throne, as the last descendant of the 
House of Lancaster. This first undertaking miscarried. A storm 
drove back the bold adventurer to Dieppe, and compelled him 
once more to throw himself, with his five hundred English fol- 
lowers, on the hospitality of Duke Francis. Richard's influence 
with the Duke, however, rendered his stay there somewhat 
dangerous. Richmond withdrew privately, and endeavoured to 

1 Fabian, p. 673. 

' Sicetynge sykenesse in the Chronicles. 

* The Mayors' names were Thomas Hijlle and William Stacker. Fabian, loc. eit. 

■» Until the 30th of October. Grafton, p. 158. 5 Wood, lor. eit. 


gain over to his cause Charles VIII., who was yet a rainor. A 
small subsidy of French troops, some pieces of artillery, and an 
adequate supply of money, were finally granted to his repeated 
solicitations. This little band was quickly augmented to 2000 
men, who were all embarked, and on the 25th of July, 1485, they 
weighed anchor at Havre, and seven days after, the standard of 
Richmond was raised in Milford Haven.' 

They landed at the village of Dale, on the west side of the har- 
bour, and on the evening of their arrival, or very early on the fol- 
lowing morning, Richmond hastened to Haverfordwest, where no 
messenger had yet announced the renewal of the civil war. It 
appears that he reached Cardigan, on the northern shore, on the 
3rd of August, and for the first time granted to his small but in- 
creasing army the repose of an encampment. 

After a short halt he set forward with confidence, crossed the 
Severn at Shrewsbury,^ turned from thence to Newport and Staf- 
ford, and pitched his camp at Litchfield, probably before the 18th 
of August.^ The distance to this place from Milford Haven is 
170 miles, and the road leads over wooded mountains and culti- 
vated fields without touching upon any swampy lands. Litchfield, 
however, lies low, and it was here that the army encamped in a 
damp situation, till it broke up for the neighbouring field of Bos- 
worth. Thither Richmond, with scarcely 5000 men, and having 
his right wing covered by a morass, went to meet his deadly foe, 
whose army doubled his own. The combat was at first furious, 
but in two hours Lord Stanley crowned the conqueror with 
Richard's diadem."* 

All these events so rapidly succeeded each other in the course 
of three weeks, that the knights and soldiers of Richmond, more 
and more excited every day by fear and hope, were scarcely equal 
to such exertions. Yet the very rapidity of the movements of the 
array was the cause why the disease could not spread so quickly, 
nor obstruct the final decision of Bosworth, although the report 
of it had already, before this event, spread universal terror ; so 
that Lord Stanley, when authoritatively summoned by Richard 

1 Phil, de Comines, Tom. i. p. 344. Compare the English chronicles quoted. 
The history of Croyland Abbey states that the 1st of August was the day of Richmond' s 
arrival at Milford Haven. There exists no reason for departing from this statement 
with some modern writers, namely, Kay du Chesne, p. 1192, Lilie, p. 382, and Mar- 
solier, who assert the landing of the army to have taken place on the 7th of August. 
Historia Croylandensis, p. 573, in Jo. Fell. 

2 Grafton, p. 147. ^ ^tow, p. 779. 
* According to the unanimous statements of the chroniclers. 


to repair to his standard, sought to gain time, and, by way of ex- 
cuse, alleged the prevalence of the new disease.' 

After the victory of Bosworth, King Henry remained two days 
in Leicester, and then without further delay hastened to London, 
which he reached in less than four days, unaccompanied by mili- 
tary parade, and attended only by a select body of followers. The 
remainder of his army, which stood greatly in need of repose after 
its severe toils, were not in a condition for marching, they there- 
fore halted in the neighbouring towns, and were probably dis- 
banded, according to the custom of the age.^ 

The Sweating Sickness is said not to have made its appearance 
in London till the 21st of September,^ but historians have most 
likely intended by that day to mark the commencement of its 
virulence, which continued to the end of the following month, and 
lasted, therefore, in all, about five weeks. 

During this short period a large portion of the population * fell 
victims to the new epidemic, and the lamentation was without 
bounds so long as the people were ignorant that this fearful dis- 
ease, unable to establish its dominion, would only pass through 
the country like a flash of lightning, and then again give place 
to the active intercourse of society and the cheering hope of life. 

There was no security against a second attack ; for many who 
had recovered were seized by it, with equal violence, a second, 
and sometimes a third time, so that they had not even the slender 
consolation enjoyed by sufferers in the plague'^ and small-pox, of 
entire immunity after having once surmounted the danger.*' 

Thus by the end of the j'ear the disease had spread over the 
whole of England, and visited every place with the same severity 
as the metropolis. Many persons of rank, of the ecclesiastical 

' Histor. Crojiaiidens. p. 573. Fell. 

* Baco?i, p. 7. Marsolier, p. 14"2. Yet in the Autumn of that same year Henry 
established, what no prior king of England ever had, -a body-guard. It consisted of 
only 50 " Yomen of the Crowuc," to each of whom there were appointed two men on 
footman archer and a demi-lance, and a groom to attend to his three horses. The 
fii-st commander of this body-guard, which formed the most ancieut stock whence 
sprang the English standing army, was Henry Bourchier, Earl of Essex. Herbert of 
Cherbury, p. 9. Grafton, and the other chroniclers, loc. cit. Baker, p. 254. 

3 Bacon, Stoic, Baker, loc. cit. Rapin considered the middle of September as the 
period of the outbreak. T. lY. p. 3S6. 

* "Infinite persons." Bacon. "A wonderful number." Stoip. "Many thou- 
sands." Baker, loc. cit. 

* The plague can scarcely be said to furnish this immunity, for though the second 
attack is an exception to a pretty general rule, it is one of by no means unfrequent oc- 
currence. — Transl. note, 

« Hol'mshed, Vol. III. p. 482. 


and the civil classes, became its victims ; and great was the con- 
sternation when, in the month of August, it broke out in Oxford. 
Professors and students fled in all directions ; but death overtook 
many of them, and this celebrated university was deserted for six 
weeks, ^ Three months later it appeared at Croyland, and on the 
14th of November, carried off Lambert Fossedyke, abbot of the 
monastery.^ No authentic accounts from other quarters have been 
handed down to our times, but we may infer, from the general 
grief and anxiety which prevailed, that the loss of human life was 
very considerable. 

Sect. 2. — The Physicians. 

The physicians could do little or nothing for the people in this 
extremity.^ They are nowhere alluded to throughout this epi- 
demic, and even those who might have come forward to succour 
their fellow- citizens, had fallen into the errors of Galen, and their 
dialectic minds sank under this appalling phenomenon. This holds 
good even of the famous Thomas Linacre, subsequently physician 
in ordinary to two monarchs,'* and founder of the College of 
Physicians, in 1518. In the prime of his youth he had been an 
eye-witness of the events at Oxford, and survived even the second 
and third eruption of the Sweating Sickness ; but in none of his 
writings do we find a single word respecting this disease, which is 
of such permanent importance. In fact, the restorers of the medi- 
cal science of ancient Greece, who were followed by all the most 
enlightened men in Europe, with the single exception of Linacre, 
occupied themselves rather with the ancient terms of art than 
with actual observation, and in their critical researches overlook- 
ed the important events that were passing before their eyes.^ This 
reminds us of the later Greek physicians, who for four hundred 

. 1 Wood, p. 233. " Histor. Croyland. p. 569. Fell. 

2 No pbysick afforded any cure. Baker, p. 254. 

* Henry VII., and Henry YIII. Compare the excellent biographical account of 
this learned man by Aikin. 

^ Erasmus expresses himself on this subject in his usual manner. He was on terms 
of strict friendship with Linacre, whom on other occasions he greatly lauds. This, 
however, does not prevent him from lashing him with his satire as a philological pe- 
dant. "Novi quendam ■aoXvTtx'voTarov, gra^cum, latinum, mathematicum, philoso- 
phum, medicum, Kal ravra paaiXiKov, jam sexagenarium (he was born in 1460, and 
died in 1524:), qui ceteris rebtis omissis, annis plus viginti se torquet ac discruciat in 
grammatica, p7-orsus Jelicem se fore ratus, si taindiu liceat vivere, donee certo statuaf, 
quomodo distinguendm sint octo partes orationis, quod hactenus nemo Gra?corum aut 
Latinorum ad plenum prsstare valuit." Laus Stultitise, p. 200. That Linacre is 
here meant is quite plain ; the passage applies to no other contemporary. 


years paid no attention to tlie small-pox, because they could find 
no description of it in the immortal works of Galen.' 

No resource was therefore left to the terrified people of Eng- 
land but their own good sense, and this led them to the adoption 
of a plan of treatment, than which no physician in the world could 
have given them a better ; namely, not to resort to any violent 
medicines, but to apply moderate heat, to abstain from food, 
taking only a small quantity of mild drink, and quietly to wait 
for four-and-twenty hours the crisis of this formidable malady. 
Tliose who were attacked during the day, in order to avoid any 
chill, immediately went to bed in their clothes, and those who 
sickened by night did not rise from their beds in the morning ; 
while all carefully avoided exposing to the air even a hand or 
foot. Thus they anxiously guarded against heat or cold, so as not 
to excite perspiration by the former, nor to check it by the latter 
— for they well knew that either was certain death. ^ 

The report of the infallibility of this method soon spread over 
the whole kingdom, and thus towards the commencement of 1486, 
many were rescued from death. On New Year's Day, a violent 
tempest arose in the south-east, and by purifying the atmosphere 
relieved the oppression under which the people laboured, and thus, 
to the joy of the whole nation, the epidemic was swept away with- 
out leaving a trace behind.^ 

Sect. 3. — Causes. 

It was thought remarkable, even at that time, that the Sweat- 
ing Sickness did not extend beyond the limits of England, and 
that, remaining the unenviable property of that nation, it did not 
even spread to Scotland, Ireland, or Calais, which belonged to 
Britain. Much, doubtless, was owing to the peculiarity of the 
climate, more still to atmospherical changes, and something also 
to the habits of the people and the circumstances of the times. 
It plainly appeared in the sequel that the English Sweating 
Sickness was a spirit of the mist, which hovered amid the dark 
clouds. Even in ordinary years, the atmosphere of England is 
loaded with these clouds during considerable periods, and in damp 
seasons they would prove the more injurious to health, as the 
English of those times were not accustomed to cleanliness, .modera- 

' See the author's History of Medicine, Book II. p. 311. 
2 Grafton, p. 161, and the other chroniclers. 
^ Wood, loc. cit. 

CAUSES. 173 

tion in their diet, or even comfortable refinements. Gluttony 
was common among the nobility as well as among the lower 
classes ; all were immoderately addicted to drinking/ and the 
manners of the age sanctioned this excess at their banquets and 
their festivities. If we consider that the disease mostly attacked 
strong and robust men — that portion of the people who abandon- 
ed themselves without restraint to all the pleasures of the table 
— while women, old men, and children, almost entirely escaped, 
it is obvious that a gross indulgence of the appetite must have had 
a considerable share in the production of this unparalleled plague. 
To this may be added, the humidity of the year 1485, which 
is represented by most chronicles as very remarkable." Through- 
out the whole of Europe the rain fell in torrents, and inunda- 
tions were frequent. Damp weather is not prejudicial to health 
if it be merely temporary, but if the rain be excessive for a series 
of years, so that the ground is completely saturated, and the mists 
attract baneful exhalations out of the earth, man must necessarily 
suffer from the noxious state of the soil and atmosphere. Under 
these circumstances epidemics must inevitably follow. The five 
preceding years had been unusually wet,^ 1485 proved equally so ; 
the last hot and droughty summer was that of 1479.* Extensive 
inundations of the Tiber, the Po, the Danube, the Rhine, and 
most of the other great rivers, took place in 1480, and were at- 
tended with the usual consequences, the deterioration of the air, 
misery, and disease.^ The greatest inundation ever remembered 
in England was that of the Severn, in October, 1483. It was 
long afterwards called the Duke of Buckingham's Great Water,^ 
because it frustrated the rebellion of this powerful subject against 
Richard III., whom he had been instrumental in placing 
upon the throne ; and consequently defeated also the first enter- 
prise of Henry YII. It lasted full ten days, and the tremend- 
ous ravages occasioned by the overwhelming torrent dwelt long 
in the memory of the people. 

1 The luscious Greek wines were at this time the most in Togue, especially Cretan 
vane, Malmsey, and Muschat. Letimius, de compl. L. II. fol. 111. b. Retcsner, p. 70. 

2 Werlich, p. 248. » Spanffenberff, Mansf. Chr. fol. 395. f. 

* Werlich, p. 236. Spangenbercj, loc. cit. Overflow of the Lech, 1484. Werlich, 
p. 239. 

5 Franck von Word, fol. 211. a. 

s Grafton, p. 133, and all the other chroniclers. Short, Vol. I. p. 201, and several 
others, even Schnurrer, erroneously asserted this inundation to have taken place in the 
year 1485, 


Sect, 4, — Other Epidemics. 

During the whole of this period the nations of Europe were 
visited with various and destructive plagues. In 1477, the Bubo- 
plague broke out in Italy, and raged without interruption till 
1485. • It was accompanied by striking natural phenomena, 
among which we may reckon an enormous flight of locusts in 
14T8 '^ and 1482, and remarkable intercurrent diseases, such as 
inflammatory pain in the side, throughout the whole of Italy 
in 1482.^ In Switzerland and Southern Germany malignant 
epidemics ^ appeared In the train of drought and famine in 1480 
and 1481, while putrid fever accompanied by phrenites,^ prevail- 
ed In Westphalia, Hesse, and Friesland. There had never been in 
the memory of the inhabitants of these districts so many Ignes 
fatui as during this period. There too the people suffered from 
the failure of the harvest, so that it was necessary to obtain 
supplies from Thurlngen.^ France, where, under the fearful reign 
of Louis XL, oppression and misery seemed to mock the gifts of 
heaven, became in 1482, after a two years' scarcity, the scene of 
a devastating plague. It was an inflammatory fever with delirium, 
accompanied by such Intense pain in the head that many dashed 
out their brains against the wall, or rushed Into the wa.ter ; while 
others, after incessantly running to and fro, died in a state of the 
greatest agony. According to the notion of the age, this disease 
was attributed to astral influences, for it could not have been 
brought on only by famine, which left to the poor peasantry, 
south of the Loire, nothing but the roots of wild herbs to support 
their miserable existence,^ since the higher classes were also 
frequently attacked,^ This fever was without doubt accompanied 

' Campo, p. 132. Pfetifer, p. 32. 

2 Franck V. Word, fol. 211. a. In the plague which followed, about 20,000 people 
died in Brixen, and 30,000 in Venice. 

3 Fracastor. p. 182. Morb. Contag. L. II. 

* Wursiisen, p. 474. cap. 15. Fracastor. p. 136. Spangcnbcrg (Pestilentz) calls 
this Epidemic of 1482, which spread all over Germany, Switzerland, and France, ^'■das 
phrenitische, schioerhitzig Pestilentzjieber," i\\(i-p'\xxQmiic, intensely ardent, plague-fever. 
Compare StumpfJ". fol. 742. b. 

5 The so called llauptkrankheit. " Spangenherg, Mansfeld. Chr. fol. 396. a. 

' In many places women and children were obliged to draw the plough, from the 
want of draught cattle ; they were obliged too to cany on the cultivation by night, 
that they might not be observed by the king's inhuman revenue officers. — Mezeray, 
Tom. II. p. 750. 

^ "II couroit alors (1482) dans la France unc dangereuse et mortelle maladic, qui 
affligcoit indifferemment les grands ct les pctits, bien qu'elle ne fut pas contagieusc. 

eighmond's army. 175 

by inflammation of tlie meninges, or even of the brain itself, and 
was, perhaps, identical with that which at the same period desolat- 
ed the north-west of Germany as far as the shores of the North 
Sea, only that it was heightened by the greater natural vivacity and 
miserable situation of the French people, who were kept in a state 
of perpetual dread by the cruel executions of Louis. ^ This pesti- 
lence occasioned the king to follow the advice of his morose 
physician ^ in ordinary, and to keep himself closely confined with- 
in the town of Plessis des Tours. It was prohibited under a 
heavy penalty to speak in his presence of death which was car- 
rying off its victims in all directions, and forty crossbowmen kept 
guard in the fosse of the castle to put to death every living thing 
which might approach.^ Two years after, in 1484, virulent dis- 
eases^ again visited Germany and Switzerland ; and thus it seemed 
as if the nations were everywhere threatened with death and 

Sect. 5. — Eichmond's Army. 

From these data, which might easily be extended,^ it is evident 
that the Sweating Sickness of 1485 did not make its appearance 
without great and general premisory events, which for a series of 
years imparted to the people of England a susceptibility to danger- 
ous and unusual diseases. If, besides this, we take into account 
the gloomy temperament of the English, and the general depres- 
sion of their spirits, in consequence of the sanguinary wars of 
the red and white roses, a series of events which seems to have 
shaken their faith in an overruling Providence, we may readily 
conceive that it would require but a very slight impulse to excite 

C'etoit uiie espece dcjlevre chaude et frenetique, qui s'allumoit tout d'un coup dans le 
cerveau, et le hrkloit avec de si ci'uelles douleurs, que les wis s'eit cassoient la teste 
contre les murailles, les autres se preciintoient dans les puits, on se tuoient a force de 
courir ca et la. On en attribu la cause a quelqne maligne influence des astres, et a 
la corruption, que la mauvaise nourriture de I'annee precedente avoit forme dans le 
corps; d'autant que les vins et les bleds n'etant point venus a maturite, la disette avoit 
ete si grande, principalement dans les provinces de dela, la Loire, que les peuples n'avoi- 
entvecii que dc racines et d'herbes." Mezeray, Tom. II. p. 746. 

1 It is expressly affirmed by the historians that many of the higher classes were 
sleepless from the constant alarm and fear of Tristan^ s sword. How greatly must 
such a condition have predisposed the mind to receive this destructive fever ! 

2 Jacques Cotier. He extorted from his patients 10,000 dollars a month, but, after 
his master's death, was obliged to refund to Charles YIII. 100,000 dollars. Comi?ies^ 
L. VI. c. 12. p. 400. 3 Mezeray^ loc. cit. 

* Hpangenberg, Mansfeld. Chron. fol. 379. a. Pestilentz, 148-5, 
5 Compare Webster, T. I. p. 147. 


a powerful commotion in the mysterious mechanism of the human 
body. This impulse was evidently given by the landing of 
Richmond's army in the very year when great and portentous 
evils were anticipated; for on the 16th of March, the same day 
when Queen Ann, the unfortunate wife of Richard III., expired, 
a total eclipse of the sun enveloped all Europe in darkness, and 
gave rise to gloomy prognostications.^ Even under ordinary 
circumstances, wars begat pestilential disorders — how much more 
inevitably must these have risen in the then existing state of affairs ! 
Richmond's army consisted not of brave men animated by zeal to 
avenge their dishonoured country or to serve a good cause. It 
was composed of wandering freebooters, "vile landskneckte," as 
they were called in German}^, who assembled under his banner at 
Havre, — sharpshooters formed under Louis XL, who recklessly 
pillaged Normandy, and whom Charles VIII. gladly made over 
to Henr}^ in order to free his own peaceful territories from so 
great a scourge.^ This army may not have been worse than 
others of the same period ; ^ but cooped up as they were for a 
whole week in dirty ships, they doubtless carried about with 
them all the material for germinating the seeds of a pestilential 
disorder, which broke out soon after on the banks of the Severn 
and in the camp at Litchfield. 

Sect. 6. — Nature of the Sweating Sickness. 


Before we proceed further, some account is here required of 
the nature of this disease. It was inflammatory rheumatic fever, 
with great disorder of the nervous system. This assumption is 
supported by the manner of its origin and its especial character- 
istic of being accompanied by a profuse and injurious perspiration. 

' fipangcnberg, Mansfuld. Chroii. fol. 398. a., and many other chroniclers. The 
reader will have the goodness to observe, here and in similar places, that the text is 
not stating the opinion of the author, but the way in which these events were viewed 
in that age. 

2 — II y avoit seulement en Normandie quelque troupes de franc-archers, de ceux, 
que Louis XI. avoit licenciez, qui couroit la campagne : et plusieurs faineants s'etant 
joints avec eux, ils detruisoient tout le pais, et on devoit meme craindre, que ce mal 
ne se communiquat aux provinces voisines. Mais il se preseuta alors une belle occa- 
sion de delivrer la France de ces pillards . . . et lui donna {Charles I'll I.) 
tout ces francs-archers et brigands de Normandie jusqu'au noaibre de 3000. Mezeray, 
T. II. p. 7G2. 

^ " La milice estoit plus cruelle et plus desordonnee quo jamais." So says Mezeray 
of the French soldiers in general. T. II. p. 750. 


From the judgment that we are now capable of forming of the 
pernicious influences which prevailed in the year 1485, it may, 
without hesitation, be admitted that the humidity of that and of 
the preceding years afiected the functions of the lungs and of the 
skin, and disturbed the relation of this very important tissue to 
the internal organs of life. This is the usual commencement of 
rheumatic fevers, which bear the same relation to the sweatina- 
sickness as slight symptoms bear to severe ones of the same kind. 
The predominance of affections of the brain and of the nerves, 
however, gave to the English epidemic a peculiar character. The 
functions of the eighth pair of nerves were violently disordered 
in this disease, as was shown by oppressed respiration and extreme 
anxiety with nausea and vomiting, symptoms to which the moderns 
attach much importance.^ The stupor and profound lethargy 
show that there was injury of the brain, to which, in all pro- 
bability, was added a stagnation of black blood in the torpid 
veins. We must also take into the account a previous corruption 
and decomposition of the blood, which, even if we should be 
disinclined to infer their existence from the offensive perspiration 
of the disease itself, were proved by striking phenomena of a simi- 
lar nature that occurred in Central Europe abovit the same time ; 
for the scurvy prevailed as an epidemic, more especially in 
Germany, in the year 1486, and with such severe and unusual 
symptoms, that people were inclined to regard it as a totally new 
malady." Now such is the vital connexion of different functions 
that every impediment to respiration, whether in consequence of 
pressure from without, or through spasm and irritation of the 
nerves from within, or even from a morbid condition of the cir- 
culating fluid, infallibly calls forth the compensating activity of 
the skin, and the body becomes sufiiused with an alleviating 

Thus it plainly appears that the profuse perspiration in the 
disease of which we are treating, notwithstanding its apparently 
injurious tendency, was the result of a commotion excited on the 
part of the lungs, which was critical with respect to the disease 
itself ; and this is in accordance with all the causes of which we 
still have any knowledge. Noxious and even stinking fogs pene- 

' Schiller, Sect. II. c. 1. p. 131. b. 

2 Angelus, p. 253. Sjiangenherg, M. Chr. fol. 398. b. The scurvy aifected society 
far more in the loth and 16th centuries than it does at present, and made its appearance 
on several occasions as an epidemic. Compare, in particular, Reusner, whose work on 
the history of epidemics is one of general importance. Sennert, Wier, and others. 



tratecl into the organs of respiration, and as the blood was thus 
so much affected in its composition and in its vitality that its 
corrupt state was only to be obviated by profuse perspiration, 
the inevitable consequence was an interference with the extensive 
functions of the. eighth pair of nerves, which interference, as later 
writers relate, extended in many cases to the spinal marrow, and 
brought on violent convulsions.^ We have here only one essen- 
tial cause, out of many, for this gigantic disease, and one too which 
'accounts for its advance and spread. It is highly probable, for 
the reasons stated, and as according with all human experience, 
that it first broke out in the army of Henry the Yllth, and 
beyond all doubt that it spread from west to east, and afterwards 
in a retrograde course from east to west. With the perfectly 
equable operation of the predisposing causes, from which the 
diseases ought indubitably to have broken out all over England 
at the same time, had the condition of the atmosphere been its 
sole occasion, we must additionally presume a special cause for its 
progress through towns and villages. This, according to all ap- 
pearance, was to be found in the air, impregnated with foul 
odours, which surrounded the sick, and abounded in the tents and 
dwellings in which Henry the Vllth's soldiers, after various 
privations and hard service, amid storms and rain, were closely 
crowded together. Of both causes modern observation furnishes 
analogovis examples. Intermittent fevers spread more easily in 
air which is contaminated by sick people, and bands of soldiers, 
themselves in perfect health, have not unfrequently conveyed 
camp fever to remote places. It signifies very little by what ex- 
pressions of the schools these occurrences are designated ; it is 
best perhaps to abstain from them altogether, for they are all in- 
adequate and occasion misconceptions. Contemporaries, however, 
were certainly justified in not admitting the notion of contagion 
in the same sense as when the term is applied to the plague, with 
which they were well acquainted.- For very frequently cases, 
which were not to be explained on the principle of contagion 
communicated by persons diseased, occurred among people of 
rank, and manifestly arose independently of the usual causes. In 
these cases the fear of death, which everywhere was the harbinger 
of the disease, and threw the nerves of the chest into spasmodic 

^ Schiller, loc. cit. 

- It was conceived not to bee an epidcraicke disease, bnt to proceed from a malig- 
nitie in the constitution of tlie aire, gathered by the predispositions of seasons ; and 
the speedie cessation dcchircd as much. Bacon, p. 9. 


^commotion, gave an impulse to the malady for which the quality 
of the atmosphere and luxury had long made preparation. Had 
this view of contemporaries been even less impartial than it really 
was, it would have found the most striking confirmation in the 
sudden cessation of the pestilence throughout the whole country. 
For the destructive spirits of air, which would not have been 
discerned even by the proud naturalists of the nineteenth cen- 
tury, dispersed and vanished for half an age in the fury of the 
tempest which raged on the 1st of January, 1486. 



" The times were rough and fu.ll of mutations and rare incidents." — Bacon. 
Sect. 1. — Mercenary Tkoops. 

At the commencement of the sixteenth century, society was very 
differently constituted from what it was at the period when 
Henry the Yllth unfurled his banner for victory. The darkness 
of the middle ages had receded, as at the approach of a sun still 
• hidden behind a cloud. The mind unconsciously expanded in the 
unwonted light of day — the whole earth was on the eve of renova- 
tion — new energies were to be called into action — events more 
stupendous had never occurred, nor had more creative ideas ever 
aroused the spirit of man. The invention of Guttenberg burst 
through the bonds of mental darkness, and gave to freedom of 
thought imperishable wings ; unsuspected powers successively de- 
veloped themselves ; and, while in Western Europe an ardent 
desire arose boldly to overstep the ancient limits of human activity, 
the hopes of the more enlightened fell far short of the actual re- 
sult of such unexpected events. The discovery of the New World, 
and the circumnavigation of Africa, laid the foundation for great 
improvements ; yet the events in Central Europe, though less 
striking to contemporaries, were in their consequences infinitely 
more important and beneficial. The establishment of civil order 
among all the nations of the West took place at this period, which 
forms so important a boundary between the middle ages and mod- 
ern times. Regal power was fixed on a firm basis, and when the 
castles had fallen before the artillery of the princes and imperial 
cities, so that the X3etty feudal barons were compelled to swear 

12 * 


obedience to tlie laws, an end was put to the incessant predatory- 
feuds which had so long desolated Europe, and the establish- 
ment of internal peace was followed by the security of life and 
property — the first essential of refinement in manners and of the 
free development of human society. 

This great result of a concatenation of circumstances was not, 
however, brought about without violent struggles and innovations, 
the effects of which were felt for centuries ; but it was probably 
the estahlisJimciit of standing armieH which had the greatest in- 
fluence on European civilization. They became indeed the pillars 
of civil order, but having proceeded immediately from the per- 
nicious mercenary system, they long nourished the seeds of unre- 
strained depravity, and transmitted to later generations the 
corruptions of the middle ages. The Lansquenets^ (Landsknecte) 
of the emperor, and the mercenaries of the kings of France and 
England, who, during the war, had joined the smaller branches 
of the standing army, were homeless adventurers from every 
country in Europe, and were allured, not by military ambition, 
but solely by the prospect of booty. ^ In whatever country the 
drum beat to arms, they flocked together like swarms of locusts — 
no one knew from whence — and defying the feeble restraints 
of military discipline, indulged, during the continuance of the 
war, in all the unbridled licence of a predatory life. 

Hence the unbounded barbarity of their mode of warfare, which 
was resti'ained only by the individual exertions of more humane 
commanders. There was, however, a decided contrariety between 
this system and the moral condition of the people of Western Eu- 
rope ; a contrariety which was never entirely removed by the sub- 
sequent introduction of a more strict military discipline, and 
which has been done away only in modern times, by the establish- 
ment of regular armies on a sj'stem more congenial to the feelings 
of the people. Hence the consequences were the more pernicious, 
for when the armies were disbanded on the conclusion of peace, 
the Landsknechts dispersed in all directions, not to follow the 
plough again, or to resume their former occupations, but to pass 
their time in idleness and dissipation, if enriched by booty, and if 


1 The name passed into the French, English, and Italian languages — -Lansquenet, 


2 "flock together like flies in summer, so that any one would wonder where 

all these swarms have sprung from, and how they are maintained during tlie winter ; 
and truly they are such a miserable crew, that one ought rather to pity than envy the 
kind of life they lead and their precai'ious fortune." Franck's Chronicle. " On the 
destructive Lansquenets," fol. 217. b. 


reduced to poverty by intemperance and gambling, to infest the 
countrj'- as mendicants or robbers, till a new war again summoned 
them from their dishonourable mode of life.^ Probably but very 
few were ever able to rise from such deep degradation, and many 
fell early victims to their vices,^ while the infection of their ex- 
ample brought fresh accessions from every town and village to the 
mercenary legions. 

Sect. 2. — New Circumstances. 

It is evident that in such a condition of affairs, the effect which 
the plague produced on civil society must have been different from 
that of former times. Pernicious influences which, during the 
middle ages, had endangered the health of the inhabitants of 
towns, and had often rendered disorders, naturally slight, in the 
highest degree malignant, were for ever removed. Under this 
head may be mentioned more particularly the ill-contrived con- 
struction of the houses and streets, which even yet, in large cities, 
destro^^s the comfort of the inhabitants of whole districts, and 
those not of the poorest class only. As people acquired confidence 
in the security of peace, it ceased to be necessary to protect every 
country town by fortifications. The walls were thrown down, 
the stagnant moats were filled up, and as people were no longer 
limited to a narrow space, they built more convenient houses in 
airy streets ; the dark alleys and damp dwellings under ground 
were gradually abandoned, and a more comfortable mode of 
living superseded the former misery. By this means the mor- 
tality was considerably diminished, and the power of epidemics 
was checked ; nor can it be doubted, that the better administration 
of the laws greatly obviated the dissolution of social ties in times 
of plague, and the effects of superstition and religious animosity, 
which had formerly been so frightful. These inestimable nation- 
al improvements, however, took place but gradually, and were not 
a little retarded for a time by the new evil of the employment of 
mercenaries. For as the germs of vice were scattered in all di- 
rections by the wandering Lansquenets, so also the infection of 
noxious diseases found easier entrance into the towns and villages 
through the medium of this dissolute and widely-spread class of 

1 1518. "This year there was a great gathering of the Landsknects, who, as soon 
as they had assembled, went forth from Friesland, committed great ravages, and made 
an incursion into the country at Gellern, and were beaten by Vernloio." Wintzen- 
berger, fol. 23. a. 

* " Not to mention too the curtailment of life, for one seldom meets with an old 
Landsknecht ." Franck, loc. cit. 


men. The Lansquenets of the sixteenth centur}^, as spreaders of 
contagion, supplied the place of the former Romish pilgrims and 
flagellants; they even proved a more permanent scourge than 
those wanderers of the middle ages, who only made their appear- 
ance on extraordinary occasions. We need here only call to mind 
the malignant and beyond measure noisome lues which at the 
end of the fifteenth century spread with the rapidity of lightning 
over all Europe. It was not an importation from the innocent 
inhabitants of the New World, nor was it bred by the ill-treated 
Marrani/ the victims of the Spanish Inquisition. It was the 
mercenary army of Charles the Vlllth in Naples (1495), whose 
excesses gave to the already existing poison a malignity till then 
unknown, and prepared for the deeply-rooted depravity a scourge 
at which all the world shuddered with horror. It is, moreover, 
in place here to observe that, in the larger armies which the new 
military system now brought into the field, the ordinary camp dis- 
eases, to which another very fatal one was added, "^ were of course 
much more extensively propagated than in the less numerous 
forces of preceding centuries, and consequently that the peaceful 
inhabitants of the towns and of the country at large were thereby 
exposed to much danger. 

Sect. 3. — Sweating Sickness. 

Meantime Europe was frequently and very severely visited by 
the epidemics of the middle ages, the terrors of the constantly re- 
curring plague being borne with gloomy resignation to the inevit- 
able evil with which, as a merited chastisement, the anger of God, 
according to the notion of the times, afflicted the human race. 
Even the English were not exempt from this fearful visitation, 
which, in the year 1499, carried off 30,000 people in London 
alone, so that the king found it advisable to retire with all his 
court to Calais.^ Thus the recollection of the Sweating Sickness 
of 1485 was gradually obliterated. No one thought of its possible 
return, and all the world was occupied with other matters, when 
the old enemy unexpectedly again raised his head in the summer 
of 1506, and scared away this comfortable state of false security. 
The renewed eruption of the epidemic was not, on this occasion, 
connected with any important occurrence, so that contemporaries 

^ Those Moors were so called who, in order to remain in Spain after the conquest of 
Granada, embraced Christianity. — Tratisl. note, 

• The petechial fever, which will be spoken of further on. 
3 Grafton, p. 220. Webster,, \o\. I. p. 149. 


have not even mentioned the month in which it began to rage. 
Towards the autumn it had again disappeared, and as no new 
symptoms were added to the disease, the form of which was 
identified by a reference to the old descriptions, it was immediate- 
ly treated by the same means, the efficacy of which those who had 
witnessed the epidemic of 1485 lauded with so much reason.^ 
Every exposure to heat or cold was, as at that time, avoided, and 
the malignant fever was left to the curative powers of nature, 
the patient being kept moderately warm in bed ; and no powerful 
medicines being administered. The result was beyond all ex- 
pectation favourable, for in few houses did any fatal cases occur. 
The victory over this dreaded enemy was now, by a pardonable 
error, attributed more to human skill than to the mildness of the 
malady on this occasion, which, even under a less judicious treat- 
ment of the sick, would certainly not have been marked by any 
considerable degree of severity. 

The disease broke out in London, but whether it penetrated to 
the west or not, contemporary writers, being soon convinced of 
its slight character, have left us no intelligence. However widelv 
it may have spread, it certainly was confined to England, and no- 
where occasioned any great mortality. 

Sect. 4. — Accompanying Phenomena. 

As the epidemic was on this occasion so very mild, it was not 
accompanied by any remarkable phenomena in England, but the 
case was otherwise in the rest of Europe, as will be proved by the 
following details. After a wet summer, in the year 1505, a severe 
winter set in.^ Comets were seen in this as in the following year. 
An eruption of Vesuvius also took place in 1506,^ which may be 
mentioned, although it is well established that volcanic commo- 
tions are to be taken into account only in great pestilences, not in 
less extensive epidemics. In England there blew a violent storm 
from the south-west, from the 15th till the 26th of January, 1508, 
which drove the king of Castille, Philip of Austria, with his con- 
sort Johanna, from the Netherlands -to Weymouth ; and as, some 
days before, a golden eagle falling from St. Paul's church, in 
London, had crushed a black eagle which ornamented some lower 
building, evil predictions were promulgated among the people re- 

> Stowy p. 809. Fabian, p. 689. Hall, p. 502. Grafton, p. 230. HoUnshed, 
p. 536. Bacon, p. 225. 

2 Spangenberg, M. Chr. fol. 403. a. Pestilenz, A. 1505. 

3 Webster, Vol. I. p. 151. Fmnck, fol. 219. a. Fingre, T. I. p. 481. 


specting the fate of this son of the eraperor.^ This event, how- 
ever, could not be considered as at all connected with the pesti- 
lence which broke out about half a year afterwards. More con- 
sideration is due to the gloom and anxiety which at that time 
depressed the spirit of the English nation. The reckless avarice 
of Henry the Yllth, named the English Solomon,'^- gave just 
ground for doubts regarding the security of property ; and the 
pious foundations — those accustomed means of softening the 
dreaded wrath of Heaven, which the king, who became gradually 
more and more broken down by disease, established, could not 
efface the recollection of the arbitrary violence and extortions of 
his corrupt servants."* Although these extortions principally 
affected the wealthy nobility, who were much in need of restraint, 
yet dark mistrust was general, and all cheerfulness was banished 
from the minds of the people. This state of feeling might have 
been favourable to the propagation of the returning disease, but 
the genius of the year 1506 would not suffer it to be more than a 
slight and transient reminiscence of a mj^stically hidden danger, 
the import of which was not apparent to any medical inquirer of 
the 16th century. 

Sect. 5. — Petechial Fever in Italy, 1505. 

Thus, if we paid attention, as usual, only to the palpable oc- 
currences which take place on the earth and beneath its surface, 
the Sweating Sickness of the above-mentioned year might appear to 
be unconnected with more considerable commotions of organic life. 
The powers of nature, however, are in their operations too subtle 
to be comprehended by our dull senses and by the coarse me- 
chanism of our organs ; nay, precisely at a time when neither the 
one nor the other indicate any alteration around us, those opera- 
tions bring to light the most extraordinary phenomena in the 
human frame — that most sensitive index of secret influences on 
life. This observation was fully confirmed at the time of the first 
return of the sweating fever. For whilst this disease remained 
confined to England, there appeared in the southern and central 
parts of Europe a new and fatal epidemic, which thenceforth 

^ Bacon, p. 225. Stow, p. 809. Compare the other chroniclers, who most of them 
notice this event in great detail. 

2 Bacon, p. 231. 

3 Empson and Dudley, ministers of Henry VII., who left behind him treasure to the 
amount of £1,800,000 sterling. Compare Hume, Hist, of Eng. Vol. III., Bacon, and 
almost all the chroniclers. Both ministers were executed in the following reign, in 
the year 1509. Grafton, p. 236. 


visited these nations almost continually with intense malignity. 
This was the petechial fever, a disease unknown to the older phy- 
sicians, which was first observed in 1490, in Granada, where it 
threatened to annihilate the army of Ferdinand the Catholic, and 
made great havoc also among the Saracens.* The bubo plague had 
immediately preceded it (1483, 1485, 148G, 1488, 1489, and 1490),' 
and it may with no small probability be assumed that the petechial 
fever had resulted from this as a peculiar variety, since in other 
countries also, fifteen years later, the bubo plague degenerated in 
various ways, and examples are not wanting in which particular 
forms or constituent parts of great epidemics thus branch off from 
them, in the same manner as, under favourable circumstances, 
these will combine together, and united into one destructive whole, 
multiply the sources of danger. 

Yet some contemporaries were of opinion that the petechial 
fever had been brought over to Grranada ^ by Venetian mercena- 
ries from Cyprus, where they had fought against the Turks, 
and where this disorder was said to have been indigenous. ]N"ot- 
withstanding some good works * already existing, this matter has 
need of a more thorough examination, which might bring to light 
important and instructive results, respecting the rise and spread 
of the petechial fever, and especially respecting its relation to 
other plagues. Whatever may be held with regard to the true 
origin of this fever, thus much is established, that it was at first 
an independent European disease, and that, at the commencement, 
having occupied the southern part of this quarter of the world, it 
then became connected, in a manner as extraordinary as it was 
worthy of observation, with the sweating sickness of the north ; 
since the nearly simultaneous eruption of the sweating fever in 
England, with the great epidemic petechial fever in the year 
1505, may be justly attributed to an influence common to both, 
although unquestionably of greater power in the latter. 

The epidemic petechial fever, of which we are now treating, 
prevailed principally in Italy, and is described by Fracastoro 
as the first plague of this kind which ever appeared in that 

^ Villalba, T. I. pp. 69. 99. — Ferdinand' s conflicts with the Saracens began in 1481, 
and ended \nth the fall of Granada in 1492. The disease is called in Spanish Tabar- 
diilo, which name, however, Villalba has not quoted at so early a period as 1490. 

* Villalba, loc. cit. p. 66. 

3 Ibid. p. 69. — Fracastor. de niorbis contagios. L. II. c. 6. p. loo. — Schencke von 
Grafenberg, L. YI. p. 553. T. II. 

* Besides those already named, the writings of Omodei and Pfeufer. Compare 
Schnurrer, Book II. p. 27. 


country. Of this nevr disease/ wliicli- was placed by this great 
physician midway between the bubo plague and the non -pestilen- 
tial fever, the contagious quality showed itself from the beginning; 
yet it was plainly perceived, that the contagion did not take 
effect so quickly as 'in the bubo plague, that it was not conveyed 
so easily by means of clothing and other articles, and that phy- 
sicians and attendants on the sick were the only persons who in- 
curred much danger of infection. The fever began insidiously, 
and with very slight symptoms, so that the sick in general did 
not so much as seek medical aid. Many persons, and even phy- 
sicians among the number, suffered themselves to be deceived by 
this circumstance, and thus, not being aware of the danger, they 
hoped to effect an easy cure, and were not a little astonished at 
the sudden development of malignant phenomena. The heat was 
inconsiderable, in proportion to the fever, yet those affected felt a 
certain inward indisposition, a general depression of all the vital 
powers, and a weariness as if after great exertion. They lay upon 
their backs with an oppressed brain, their senses were blunted, 
and in most cases delirium and gloomy muttering, with bloodshot 
eyes, commenced from the fourth to the seventh day. The urine 
was usually clear and copious at the beginning, it then became red 
and turbid, or resembling pomegranate wine (granatwein), the 
pulse was slow and small, the evacuations putrid and offensive, 
and either on the fourth or seventh day red or purple spots, like 
flea-bites, or larger, or resembling lentils (lenticulae), which also 
gave a name to the disorder, broke out on the arms, the back, and 
the breast. There was either no thirst at all, or very little ; the 
tongue was loaded, and in many cases a lethargic state came on. 
Others, on the contrary, suffered from sleeplessness, or from both 
these symptoms alternateh'. The disease reached its height on the 
seventh or on the fourteenth day, and in some cases still later. In 
many there existed a retention of urine with very unfavourable 
prognosis. Women seldom died of this fever, elderly people still 
more rarely, and Jews scarcely ever. Young people, on the other 
hand, and children died in great numbers, and especially from 
among the higher ranks, while the plague, on the contrary, used 
generally to commit its ravages only among the poorer classes. An 
inordinate loss of power in the commencement betokened death, as 
also a too violent effect from mild aperient means, and a failure in 
alleviation after a complete crisis. Patients were seen to die who 

- It was called Puncticula or Peticul*, also Febris stigmatica, Pestis petechiosa. 
Reusner, p. II. For later sraoniines, see Biirserius, Vol. II. p. 293. 


had lost to the extent of three pounds of blood from the nose. It 
was also a very bad sign when the spots disappeared, or broke out 
tardily, or were of a blackish-blue colour. Phenomena of an oppo- 
site character, on the contrary, afforded hope of recovery. 

The best physicians were agreed on the importance of the 
petechiaB as an indication of the nature of the crisis ; for those 
eases in which they were abundant and of a good quality were 
cured much more easily than those in which the eruption was 
suppressed. An abundant perspiration also was particularly con- 
duciv^e to recovery, whereas all other evacuations, especially a flux 
from the bowels, proved to be injurious and even fatal. 

If we keep these phenomena in view, and consider, moreover, 
that in the widely extending lues venerea of those times cutane- 
ous eruptions predominated over the other symptoms, the Eng- 
lish sweating sickness in the north of Europe will appear, as in 
connexion with this circumstance, of a very important character ; 
and the supposition, that the morbid activity of the sj^stem during 
the whole of" this age maintained a decided determination to the 
skin, may thence be fairly considered as something more than a 
mere conjecture. 

This fact speaks for itself, but the causes of this altered tem- 
perament of the body it is not an easy matter to discover. Fra- 
castoro, who knew much better than his modern foUoM^ers how to 
manage his sagacious doctrine of contagion, looked for these 
causes in the quality of the air, which was manifest by much 
more evident phenomena in the epidemic petechial fever of 1528 
than in that of 1505, and he traced an active connexion between 
this quality, which he called "infection of the atmosphere," ^ and 
the condition of the blood ; thus indicating unknown influences 
by an obscure notion. He considered the altered qualit}^ of the 
blood according to the established views of that period, which the 
petechial spotted fever seemed clearly to confirm, as a putrefaction ; 
and he even assumed that, in the non-epidemic petechial fevers, 
which, from the year 1505 forward, frequently occurred, isolated 
causes must have given rise to changes in the blood, as well as 
that quality of the air, to which this great physician attributed 
the general and continued alterations which take place in the 
nature of diseases. 

' Consimilem ergo infectionem in aere primum fuisse censendum est, quEe mox iu 
nos ingesta tale febriiun genus attulerit, quae tanietsi pestilentes veriB non sunt, in limine 
tamen earum videntur esse. Analogia vero ejus contagionis ad sanguinem prsecipue 
esse constat, quod et macula; illffi, quae expelli consuevere, demonstrant, etc., p. 161. 


The petechial fever made the same impression on the physicians 
of Italy as new disorders have ever made ; for although they 
were the best in Europe, their view Avas bounded by the horizon 
of Galen, within the limits of which the novel phenomenon was 
not to be found. They were therefore soon perplexed, and whilst 
they sought to entrammel the dreaded enemy with scholastic 
doctrines of repletion and acrimony and occult qualities, and be- 
took themselves first to one remedy and then to another, they 
exposed themselves to the derision of the people, who soon per- 
ceived their disagreement and indecision, and, as usual, charged 
on the whole medical profession the well-merited blame of in- 

Sect. 6. — Other Diseases. 

About this same period, in October, 1505, a very fatal disease 
broke out in Lisbon, the further progress of which was marked 
by the terror, the flight, and the confusion of the inhabitants." 
Of what kind it was, whether a petechial fever or a bubo plague, 
and what connexion it had with the pestilence in Spain which 
had just preceded it, it would perhaps be difiicult now to ascer- 
tain. This latter pestilence had spread from Seville, following an 
earthquake, and violent storms of wind and rain, in 1504, and 
may very likely have been a bubo plague. Similar notices are 
met with of pestilences occurring in that country in 1506, the 
year of the English sweating sickness, in 1507 and 1508, in 
which years mention is made of swarms of locusts in the neigh- 
bourhood of Seville, and finally in 1510, the year of a great in- 
fluenza,^ and 1515. Exact descriptions, however, of these dis- 
orders are entirely wanting.'* 

With all the above phenomena, the epidemics which took place 
in Germany and France at the commencement of the sixteenth 
centur}', evidently unite to form a connected whole. Varj'ing in 
intensity and extent, they continued without intermission for full 
five years, and moreover were accompanied by unusual circum- 
stances, such as occur only in the time of great pestilences. The 
century was ushered in by the appearance of a cornet,^ which, 

' Compare the wliole of the sixth and seventh chapters of Fracastor. loc. cit. What 
was tlie general judgment of the Italian physicians respecting the spotted fever, may be 
gathered from A7c. Massa, whose confused work, however, contributes nothing to tlie 
history of the disease. Cap. IV. fol. 67, seq. Compare Sc/ienck von Grafenber(/s 
excellent and very copioxis treatise, de fehre stigmatica. L. YI. p. 553, Tom. II. 

'■ Oson'o, fol. il,3. b., 114. a. ^ See further on. ■» ViUalba,-^. 78, et seq. 

5 Spnngenherg, ■M. Chr. fol. 402. a. Angelas, p. 261. Pingre, T. I. p. 479. 


on this occasion, seemed to confirm the long-cherished belief that 
the appearance of these heavenly' bodies was prognostic of evil. 
For mankind are in the habit of concluding that phenomena 
which are simultaneous must have some internal connexion, and 
many examples were called to mind in which great pestilences 
affecting the whole world had been either preceded or accompanied 
by comets.^ Immediately afterwards a great murrain among 
cattle took place, which may have proceeded from some injurious 
quality in their food. A notion immediately arose that the pas- 
tures were poisoned, and of this there was so firm a conviction, 
that the most violent resentment, as of old, in the time of the 
black death, prevailed against the supposed poisoners, and in the 
neighbourhood of Meissen some "bose Buben" (wicked knaves) 
who had fallen imder suspicion, were actually executed.^ 

A very considerable blight of caterpillars, which, in the north of 
Germany, stripped the gardens and woods far and wide of their 
foliage, deserves to be here mentioned as a phenomenon appertain- 
ing to the lower grades of the animal kingdom.^ I^atural history 
has shown that occurrences of this kind are by no means occasion- 
ed by new and wonderful influences, but rather by unusual com- 
binations of circumstances, appearing to occur together almost 
accidentally, at a given time ; especially by the simultaneous 
union of warmth and humidity in the atmosphere, whereby some- 
times one and sometimes another of the lower grades of animal 
existences becomes extraordinarily developed. It is on this oc- 
count that iniusual phenomena in the insect world, whether it be 
the appearance or the disappearance of particular kinds, take 
place much more frequently when the order of succession in the 
seasons and the condition of the atmosphere are in a greater de- 
gree than usual and more permanently disturbed ; and thus those 
phenomena have, with much reason, ever been considered as fore- 
runners of pestilences, whenever the human frame has become, 
through atmospherical causes, generall}^ susceptible of disease. 
Swarms of locusts have appeared before and during most great 
pestilences, and indeed the exuberant production of this insect ap- 
pears, at least in Europe, to require the most unusual combination 
of causes. 

1 Compare Webster, who has collected together whatever could be found on this sub- 
ject. Vol. II. p. 28. 

• Spa7iffeiiberff, M. Chr. fol. 402. a. 
3 The same. Franck. fol. 219. a. 


Sect. 7. — Blood Spots. 

Of rarer occurrence, but quite as important in reference to the 
general tendencies of life, are the luxuriant growths of the minutest 
cryptogamic j^lunts in the ivater, and on damp things of all kinds, 
which, from their spots of various forms and colours, produced the 
utmost horror both before and during great pestilences, and ex- 
cited superstitious fears, as appearing to be something miraculous. 
These spots (signacula), and especially the blood-spots, were seen 
at a very early period, as for instance during the great general 
plague in the sixth century,' and again, during the plague of the 
years 786^ and 959, when it is said to have been remarked, that 
those on whose clothes they frequently appeared, and seemingly 
imparted to them a peculiar odour, were more susceptible than 
other people of attack from leprosy, on which account this spotted 
appearance was inconsiderately called the clothes leprosy^ (Lepra 
vestium) ; not to mention other examples , in which plagues affect- 
ing the human species did not take place. The same signs also, 
in the years from 1500 to 1503, threw the faithful into great con- 
sternation, because, as on former occasions, they fancied they re- 
cognised in them the form of the cross.* The phenomenon on this 
occasion spread throughout Germany and France, and from its 
great extent and long duration, may be reckoned among the most 
remarkable of the kind. The spots were of different colours, 
principally red, but also white, yellow, grey, and black, and arose, 
often in a very short time, on the roofs of houses, on clothes, on 
the veils and neck handkerchiefs of women, on various household 
utensils, on the meat in larders, &c. A historian, who speaks also 
of blood-rain,*' recounts that they could not be got rid of in less 

' Author's History of Medicine. Book 11. p. 146. 

- Sigebert. Gembl. fol. 58. a. Spangenberg, M. Chr. i'ol. 66. b. 

3 Sigebert. Gembl. fol. 82. a. Hermxinn. Contract, p. 186. Witichind. p. 34. 

■* Compare on this subject iWes v. Esenbeck's Supplement to R. Broicn's Miscel- 
Ifvneous Botanical "Writings, Book I. p. 571 ; and Ehrenherg's New Observations on 
Blood-like Appearances in Egypt, Arabia, and Siberia, together with a review and cri- 
tique on what was earlier known, in Poggendorff' s Annalen, 1830 ; the two best works 
on this subject ; wherein is also contained a criticism on ChladiiVs Hypermeteorological 

* Crusius is the most circumstantial on this point, for he gives the names of many 
persons on whose clothes crosses were visible. On a maiden's shawl the instruments of 
Christ's martyrdom were supposed to have been seen marked. In the vicinity of 
Biberach, a miller's lad made rude sport of the painting of crosses, but he was seized 
and burned. Book II. p. 156. 

^ Mezerag, T. II. p. 819. 


than ten or twelve days, and that they frequently occurred in 
closed chests, on linen and on articles of clothing.' Much in- 
formation is not to be expected from the researches of the natural- 
ists of those times, but there is no doubt that what is described was 
some one or more kinds of mould,^ inasmuch as the whole 
phenomenon evidently corresponds with modern observations.-^ 
Scientific physicians df the sixteenth century, among whom the 
naturalist George Agricola, who was born in 1494, and died in 
1555, ought especially to be mentioned, recognised, even then, 
these spots as lichens, and without seeking to account for them by 
supernatural agencies, or lending credence to popular superstition, 
they gave them their just interpretation as indications of ex- 
tensive disease.'' Should the too bold notion of Nees v. Esenbeck, ^ 
that fungi of the most minute forms have their origin in the 
higher regions of the firmament, and descending to the surface of 
the earth, produce spots and stains, be confirmed, which is not yet 
the case, these " signacula " would have a much more important 
connexion with epidemics than can be otherwise conceded to them ; 
for though it be highly probable that they have their origin only 
in the dissemination of germs in the lower strata of the atmosphere, 
it must yet be granted, that if they appear over a considerable 
space, and during a longtime, as at the commencement of the six- 
teenth century, the causes favouring their generation and spread 
must be ranked among those of an extraordinary kind, and on this 
very account may exercise an influence over human organism, as 
was then evident. 

For so early as the fruitful year 1503, the plague, which had 
already appeared partially, made great advances, and France in 
particular was visited by so fatal a pestilence, that the inhabitants 
of towns and villages, in order to escape the infection, fled in 
bodies to the woods, and even the house-dogs became wild, which 
never happens, unless a country be extensively depopulated.^ 
They were obliged to establish great hunts, in order to free the 

' A}igelus, p. 261. 

• Perhaps Sporotrichum vesicarum, or a kind of Mycoderma. 

3 Vincenzo Sette describes a kind of red mould, which in the year 1819 coloured ■ 
vegetable and animal substances in the province of Padua, and excited superstitious 
apprehensions among the. people. See his work on this subject. 

* " Autumnali vero tempore, cum jam vestes, lintea, culcitrfc, panes, omnis generis 
obsonia, sub dio, vel in conclavibus patentibus locata talem situ mucorem contraxerunt, 
qualis oritur in penore, in opacis domus cellis collocato, aut etiam in ipsis cellis diu non 
repurgatis, pestis prsesentes adnocendum vires habet." L. I. p. 45. Agricola' s Treatise 
on the Plague is among the cleverest which the sixteenth century produced. 

5 For example, at the time of the Justinian Plague, and of the Black Death. 


country from these new beasts of prey, and from wolves which 
appeared in great multitudes.' The dry and continued heat of 
the following year, 1504, having given rise to still more extensive 
sickness, and caused a failure in the crops, the bubo plague raged 
in Germany with such violence, that in some places a third part, 
and in others as many as half the inhabitants perished. Various 
kinds of fevers accompanied this overwhelming disease, among 
which there was one distinguished by head-ache and phrensy 
similar to that which appeared in France, in 1482.^ Various 
putrid fevers and putrid inflammations of the lungs with bloody 
expectoration, are also no less plainh" discernible from the ac- 
counts.^ This diversified and general sickness throughout the 
whole of Germany, terminated in the cold winter of 1504-5 and 
the following summer, during which there was a continued mur- 
rain among cattle. It is certain, that at that time the petechial 
fever in Italy had not yet passed the Alps. 

From all these facts it is a ■probable conjecture, that the sweating 
sickness tchich visited England in the year 1506, although accom- 
panied in that country itself hy no prominent circumstances, was not 
without coymexion icith tjie morbid commotion of human and animal 
life in the south and middle of Europe, and m,ay perhaps be re- 
garded as having been the last feeble effort of mysterious agencies 
in the domain of organized being. 

1 Mezeray, T. II. p. 828. - See above, p. 17-i. 

^ The former mortality was so far from having ceased, yea, rather in the great heat 
(of summer) was still more vehement, that in some places a third part, and in some 
even the half of the people were snatched away by death, and that not by one only, but 
by various and hitherto unheard of diseases. Men caught the burning fever so rapidly 
and violently, that they thought they must be totally consumed. Some were seized with 
such severe and insupportable head-ache that they were deprived of their senses, some 
■with siich a violent cough that they expectorated blood incessantly — some with such a 
very rapid flux, that it broke their hearts : the bodies of some putrefied, and were so 
offensive that no one could remain near them. And by reason of such extraordinary 
diseases, it was a most sorrowful and troublous year, and there followed a hard winter, 
in the which the cold lasted for three months. Spangenberg, M. Chr. fol. 402. b. 
Compare Angelus, p. 263, who, following some contemporaries, mentions a comet 
(doubted by Pingre, I. 479) as having appeared in the year 1504. 

povp:rty. , 193 



" This learned Lord, this Lord of wit and art, 
This metaphysick Lord, holds forth a Glasse, 
Through which we may behold in every part 
This boisterous prince."— Howell.' 

Sect. 1. — Poverty. 

The ordinances of Henry the Yllth, which, although adapted to 
the times, bore hard upon the people, soon produced their fruits. 
The great diminished the number of their servants, and as, more- 
over, many of the peasantry were thrown out of employment in 
consequence of a conversion of large tracts of arable land into 
pasture,^ the population of towns increased even to an overflow, 
and the consequent activity of trade gradually rendered the towns 
flourishing. But this change took place too rapidly. Wealth 
and luxury engendered, it is true, numerous wants which were a 
source of gain, so that the English were at this time considered 
luxurious and effeminate,^ but there was a general scarcity of 
workmen and artists, and hence it happened, that from Genoa, 
Lombardy, France, Germany, and Holland, innumerable foreigners 
immigrated and took possession of the most lucrative branches of 
employment. This was a peculiar hardship on the natives, who, 
from their imperfect knowledge of the arts, could not compete 
with the more skilful foreigners, and were besides treated by them 
with insolence and contempt. The distresses of the poor thus in- 
creased yearly, and their indignation at length broke out. A 
great insurrection of the English artizans arose throughout Lon- 
don, and might have proved destructive to the foreigners, had 
afiairs been in a less orderly state. The popular commotion was 
however suppressed without any considerable sacrifice, and Henry 
the Ylllth on a solemn day, appointed at Westminster, for pass- 
ing judgment upon the prisoners, bestowed a pardon on them ; for 
he saw into the causes of their discontent, and very soon after 
caused restrictive alien laws to be enacted.* 

1 From a Poem on Henry VIII. in Herbert of Cherbury. 

* They found grazing more profitable, and converted large tracts of arable land into 
pasture. Hume, T. IV. p. 277. ^ Lemnius, fol. III. b. 

♦ Grafton, p. 294. This insurrection is called by the Chroniclers, " Insurrection of 
Evill May-day."— ifime, T. IV. p. 274. 



Sect. 2. — Sweating Sickness. 

All this took place in April and May of the ever memorable 
year 1517, and London was again indulging in hopes' of better 
days, ^yhen the Sweating Sickness once more broke out quite un- 
expectedly in July, and in spite of all former experience, and the 
most sedulous attention, inexorably demanded its victims. On 
this occasion it was so violent and so rapid in its course, that it 
carried off those who were attacked in two or three hours, so that 
the first shivering fit was regarded as the announcement of certain 
death. It was not ushered in by any precursory sjTnptoms. 
Many who were in good health at noon were numbered among 
the dead by the evening, and thus as great a dread was created at 
this new peril as ever was felt during the prevalence of the most 
suddenly destructive epidemic : for the thought of being snatched 
away from the full enjoyment of existence without any prepara- 
tion, without any hope of recover}^ is appalling even to the 
bravest, and excites secret trepidation and anguish. Among the 
lower classes the deaths were innumerable.' The city was more- 
over crowded with poor ; but even the ranks of the higher classes 
were thinned, and no precaution averted death from their palaces. 
Ammonius of Lucca, a scholar of some celebrity, and in this ca- 
pacity private secretary to the king, was cut ofi" in the flower of 
his age, after having boasted to Sir Thomas More, only a few 
hours before his death, that by moderation and good management 
he had secured both himself and his family from the disease.^ 
Also of those immediately about the king, Lords Grey and Clinton 
were carried off, besides many knights, officers, and courtiers. 
Mourning supplanted the hilaritj^ and brilliancy of the festivals, 
and the king, while in miserable solitude, into which he had re- 
tired with a few followers, received message after message from 

^ " Of the common sort they were numberless, that perished by it." Godwyn, p. 23. 

- Is valde sibi videbatur adversus contagionem -victus moderatione munitus : qua 
factum putavit, ut quum in nullum pene incideret, cujus non tota familia laboraverat, 
nemiuem adhuc e suis id malum attigerit, id quod et mihi et niultis praterea jactavit, 
non adniodum multis horis antequam extinctus est." — Erasm. Epist. L. VII. ep. 4. col. 
386. Tlie date of the year of this letter from Sir Thomas More to Erasmus, 1520, is 
clearly erroneous, as is that of many other letters in this collection, for at that time the 
Sweating Sickness did not prevail in London ; it is also suiliciently well known from 
other researches (Biographic Universelle — General Biographical Dictionary), that 
Ammonius died in 1517. The date of the month, however, 19th August, seems to be 
correct. Sprengel has, in consequence of this false date of the year, been misled to as- 
sume a specific epidemic Sweating Sickness as having taken place in the year 1520 
(Book II. p. GS6), which is wholly unconfirmed. 


different towns and villages, announcing, that in some a third, in, 
others even half the inhabitants were swept off by this pestilence. 
It had never before raged with so much fatality. The minds of 
men had never before been so frightfully appalled. The festival 
of Michaelmas (29th September), which in England was always 
kept with much religious pomp, was of necessity postponed ; nor 
w^as the solemnity of Christmas observed, for there was a dread of 
collecting together large assemblies of people/ on account of the 
contagion ; and j ust about this time, when the Sweating Sickness 
had abated, the plague, according to the account of some historians, 
began, which, although probably not very virulent, prevailed 
during the whole winter in most English towns, and continued to 
keep up the distress of the people. The king on this occasion also 
quitted his capital, and retreated, in company with a few attend- 
ants, before the contagion, frequently shifting his court from place 
to place. It was during this period of trouble (11th of February, 
1518) that the Princess Mary, afterwards Queen, was born."^ 

Thus the Sweating Sickness lasted full six months, reached its 
greatest height^ about six weeks after its appearance, and pro- 
bably spread from London over the whole of England, In Oxford 
and Cambridge it raged with no less violence than in the capital. 
Most of the inhabitants of those places were, in the course of a 
few days, confined to their beds, and the sciences, which then 
flourished, for they were never more zealously cultivated in Eng- 
land than at that time, suffered severe losses by the death of many 
able and distinguished scholars.'* Scotland, Ireland, and all other 
countries beyond sea, were on this occasion spared. The neigh- 
bouring town of Calais alone was reached^ by the pestilence ; and 
according to later observations, it may be considered as certain, 
that only the English who resided there, and not the French in- 
habitants, were affected, as it is also ascertained that the rest of 
France continued throughout free from the disease. Had this not 
been the case, contemporary writers would undoubtedly not have 
omitted to make mention of so important an occurrence. 

^ Grafton, p. 294, is very detailed. Compare Holinshed, p. 626. Baker, p. 286. 
Hall, p. 592. 

" Godwyn, p. 23. Stoic, p. 849. 

3 This, from the foregoing remark upon the death of Ammoniiis, may be concluded 
with the greatest probability. 

* — " omnibus fere intra paucos dies decumbentibus, amissis plurimis, optimis atque 
honestissimis amicis." Th. More in Erasmus's Epist. L, YII. ep. 4. col, 386. 

5 Ibid. The only place where the disease is spoken of as having spread across the 



Sect. 3. — Causes. 

The influences which gave rise to this third eruption of the dis- 
order among the English nation are obscure, and do not altogether 
correspond with those of the years 1485 and 1506. Thus it is 
especially remarkable that, on this occasion, there is no express 
mention of the humidity which had so decided a share in the 
origin of the two former visitations of the Sweating Sickness, and 
the year 1517 was in most respects one of an ordinary kind. The 
English Chronicles state nothing remarkable on the subject, and 
from those of Germany we only learn that the winter of 1516 was 
very mild, and that a fruitful summer with an abundant vintage * 
and a cold winter followed. The summer of 1517 was unfruitful, 
although not on account of wet weather, so that in some parts, 
especially in Swabia, provision was made against a scarcity.^ A 
great comet appeared in 1516,^ and in 1517 an earthquake was 
felt at Tiibingen, Nordlingeu, and Calw, during a violent storm, 
whereupon the " Haupt Krankheit"* (encephalitis), accompanied 
by fever, became more prevalent, although not remarkably fatal.'^ 
This phenomenon (the earthquake) was by no means unimportant^ 
in its effects^, and there is reason to suppose that it was followed by 
subterraneous commotions of still greater extent, for earthquakes 
occurred also in Spain."^ As the date of this event is specified as 
the 16th of June, and as earthquakes occurring in unusual lo- 
calities, that is to say, in districts not volcanic, are frequently cited 
as prognostics of great diseases, although in volcanic districts they 
evidently betoken nothing of the kind, we may hence with some 
reason assume a telluric influence, which perhaps reached the lo- 
cality of the pestilence that broke out at the beginning of July, if 

' Spangeiiberg. M. Chr. fol. 408. a. "- Crusius, T. II. p. 187. 

2 Wintzenbtrger, fol. 21. a. Angehis, p. 282. Spangeiiberg, loc. cit. Pingre 
T. I. p. 483. 

* Such was the name given in Germany to the already oft-mentioned pernicious fever 
■with inflammation of the brain. We recognise it for the first time, as an epidemic, in 
France, in the year 1482. (See above, p. 174.) It frequently made its appearance 
throughout the whole of the sixteenth century. 

5 Crusim, T. II. p. 187. 

* On the 16th of June, 1517, there was a great earthquake, and a tremendous storm 
of wind at Xordlingen, so that the parish church at St. Emeran was completely forced 
out of the ground and thrown down, and it was reckoned that there were 2000 houses 
and stables in that place which, for a space of two miles long, were overthrown and 
rent, and there were few houses there which were not, like the church, damaged and 
shaken to pieces. Wintzenberger, fol. 21. b. 

" In Xativa. T'ilhlba, T. I. p. 83. 


not earlier. Besides, we cannot find any greater phenomenon, 
which, according to human conception, could have had a more im- 
mediate connexion with the English Sweating Sickness ; and in 
this instance, too, inquiry the most circumspect does not penetrate 
through the thick veil which envelopes the inscrutable causes of 

Sect. 4. — Habits of the English, 

That, next to the peculiar constitution which England imparts 
to her inhabitants, the predisposing causes of the Sweating 
Sickness lay in the habits of the English of those times, no one 
can possibly doubt. The limitation of the pestilence to England 
plainly indicates this. 'Not a single ship conveyed it to the 
French, or to the Dutch, who breathed a much moister atmosphere ; 
and yet the intercourse between the English sea-ports and these 
immediately neighbouring nations was very frequent. Of in- 
temperance, which most generally lays the foundation for dis- 
orders, both high and low were at this time accused. This vice 
of the English was proverbial in foreign countries.^ Flesh meats 
highly seasoned with spices were indulged in to excess ; noisy 
nocturnal carousings were become customary, and it was also the 
practice to drink strong wine - immediately after rising in the 
morning. Cyder, which in some parts, as for instance in Devon- 
shire, is the common beverage,® was, even in those times, con- 
sidered by medical men as injvirious, for it was observed that its 
use caused debility with paleness, and sapped the vigour of youth 
in both sexes. ^ Other similar facts respecting the mode of living 
at that time might perhaps be adduced, from which it would appear 
that, owing to the total want of refinement in diet, much that 
was improper was employed in English cookery, and that on 
this account the constitution was much injured. Horticulture, 
which the French had already brought to a state of great im- 
provement,^ was still quite in its infancy in England. It is even 
said that Queen Catherine had pot-herbs brought from Holland 
for the preparation of salads, as they were not procurable in Eng- 

^ "II est saoiil comme un Anffloys."— liondelet, de dign. morb. fol. 35. b. 

- Elyot, in his " Castell of Health," quoted by Aikin, p. 64. Rondelet, loc. cit. 

^ In 1724, ivhich was a great fruit year, there arose in this very country, from the 
immoderate use of cyder, an epidemic cholic ; the Colica Damnoniorum. Vide Huxham, 
Opera. (Lips. 1764.) Tom. III. p. 54. 

* Elyot, in Aikin, p. 63. ^ Le Grand d'Aussy, T. I. p. 143. 


land.' Allowing that this account may not be strictly true, 
since it admits of other explanations, still it proves in itself what 
we would here enforce, and leaves us to draw conclusions from it 
beyond the mere fact of there being a scarcity of culinary veget- 
ables. Much more important, however, as respects our subject, 
was the custom of wearing immoderately warm clothing, of which 
we have accounts worthy of credence. From youth upwards the 
head was covered with thick caps, in order to secure it from every 
chance of cold, and from the least draught of air ; and as, by 
this injurious practice, the brain was subjected to a continual de- 
termination of blood, and a tenderness of the skin was induced, 
there was no disorder more frequent among the English in this 
century than catarrh,^ which was constantly reproduced by relax- 
ing perspirations and heating medicines. If this malady be 
complicated with a scorbutic habit, or if it befall persons of de- 
bauched habits, whose vessels contain nourishment not properly 
concocted, the preservative vital power seeks a vent through the 
relaxed skin, and that which in itself is a needful and alleviat- 
ing excitement of this tissue becomes a disease ; the wholesome 
excretion degenerates into a colliquative drain, which forcibly 
carries off with it unusual animal matters that ought not to pass 
away through such an outlet, and the body yields to an attack to 
which it has been thus long predisposed. When we consider this 
debilitated state of the skin as the general complaint in England, 
taking into account the prejudicial influence of hot baths,^ which 
were much in use, and the diaphoretic medicines employed in 
most disorders ; when we bear in mind the rare use of soap at that 
time, and the high price of linen, as also the extreme indigence of 
the lower classes, which almost always breeds pestilences, the ut- 
terly miserable condition and truly Scythian filth of the English 
habitations,* and finally, the crowded state of London in the year 

1 Hu?ne, T. IV, p. 273. Aikin, p. 59. 

- " Now-a-days, if a boy of seven years of age, or a young man of twenty years, have 
not two caps on his head, he and bis friends will think that he may not continue in 
health ; and yet, if the inner cap be not of velvet or satin, a serving-man feareth to 
lose his credence." Elyot, in Aikin, p. 64. 

^ " ubi homines pcrpetuo in hypocaustis degunt, multoque carnium esu se in- 

gurgitant, et alimentis piperatis continue utuntur. Quare factum est, ut continua hy- 
pocaustorum sestuatione meatuum cutis relaxatio consequeretur, quae sudoris proraptis- 
sima et potentissima causa esse solet, cuius materia in liumorum exsuperantia consis- 
tebat, quam frequens alimentorum inultum nutrientium et piperatorum usus colligerat." 
Rondelet, loc. cit. 

* The floors of the houses generally are made of nothing but loam, and are strewed 
with rushes, which being constantly put on fresh, without a removal of the old, remain 


1517, we shall, as fai' as human research can penetrate, find the 
origin of the Sweating Sickness in this very year explicable from 
causes which have long been known to be capable of producing 
such effects. Something remains in the background, of which 

Sect. 5. — Contagion. 

The rapid spread of the Sweating Sickness all over England as 
far as the Scottish borders, and across to Calais, now demands a 
more especial consideration. Most fevers which are produced by 
general causes, as well transient (epidemic), as constant and pe- 
culiar to the country (endemic), or a union of both, which almost 
always takes place, and was here evidently the case, propagate 
themselves for a time spontaneously. -The exhalations of the 
affected become the germs of a similar decomposition in those 
bodies which receive them, and produce in these a like attack 
upon the internal organs ; and thus a merely morbid phenomenon 
of life shows that it possesses the fundamental property of all 
life, that of propagating itself in an appropriate soil. On this 
point there is no doubt, — the phenomena which prove it have 
been observed from time immemorial, in an endless variety of 
circumstances, but always with a uniform manifestation of the 
fundamental law. All nations too, and from the most ancient 
times, have invented ingenious designations for these occurrences, 
which, however, seldom represent the general notion, but common- 
ly only the peculiar propagation of individual diseases. Certainly 
one of the best and the most ingenious is that which is conveyed 
by the German word " Ansteckung," ''setting on fire," which 
compares the exciting a disease in the appropriate body, with the 
inflammation of combustible matter by the application of fire, or 
with the kindling of powder by a spark. But how various are 
these " Ansteckungen !", from the purely mental, on the one 
hand, which, through the mere sight of a disagreeable nervous 
malady — through an excitement of the senses that shakes the 
mind, penetrates into the nerves, those channels of its will and of 
its feelings, and produces the same disorder in the beholder, to 
those, on the other hand, which propagate diseases that principally 

lying there, in some cases for twenty years, with fish-bones, broken victuals, and other 
filth underneath, and impregnated with the urine of dogs and men. Erasni. Epist. L. 
xxii. ep. 12. col. 1140. This description is in all probability overdrawn, and applicable 
only to the poorest huts. It is, however, certainly not fictitious, and is not refuted by 


operate only upon matter, and are distinguishable but little, if at 
all, from animal poisons. The reader must not here expect all 
the features of a doctrine which extends through the whole im- 
measurable domain of life. They are clearly derived from the 
confirmed and well-applied experience of the ixisf, and have been 
delineated by men ^ who had not forgotten, like their modern 
successors, to take a comprehensive view of epidemic diseases. It 
may, however, be permitted me just to call to mind the diiFerence 
between those infectious diseases which are permanent and for 
centuries together nnclianrjeahle, and those which are temporary 
and transient. The infecting matter of the former may aptly be 
called the perfect or unchangeable in contradistinction to the im- 
perfect or mutable character of the latter. The former, when 
once formed, whether in diseased persons or inanimate substances 
(fomites), are always in existence, and are but called into activity 
by those causes of general disease (epidemic constitutions) which 
are favourable to their propagation ; and it is to be remarked that 
under all circumstances, and at all times, they excite the same 
unchangeable diseases, and, varying only in particular ramifica- 
tions or degenerations and mild forms, never lose their proper 
essence. Examples are furnished in the small-pox, the plague, 
the measles, and, if we may include diseases not febrile, the 
leprosy, the itch, and the venereal disease. The latter, on the 
other hand, are not always in existence, they are called forth 
from nonentity, by the causes of general diseases or epidemic 
constitutions, and they disappear again after the extinction of the 
epidemic diseases by which they were bred ; they likewise vary in 
their development and their course in each particular epidemic. 
Examples are found in the yellow fever, in catarrh or influenza, 
in nervous and putrid fever, and, among many other disorders, 
in miliary fever, a disease which first grew to a national pestilence 
in the 17th centurj'-, and which, in the kind and manner of its 
infecting power, approaches nearest to the sweating fever. To 
this latter category the English Sweating Sickness likewise 
belongs ; a disease altogether of a temporary character, which, 
after its cessation, left no infecting material behind, and con- 
sequently was incapable of propagating itself after the manner 
of those diseases which are completely contagious. The animal 
matters which were expelled along with the profuse perspiration, 
and spread so horrible a stench around the sick, contained amid 

' Fracastoro, Fernet, Valleriola, llouUer, and most of the other learned physicians 
of the sixteenth century. 


their alkaline salts (probably ammonia in various states of com- 
bination), and their superabundant acid, the ferment of the dis- 
ease ; and this penetrated into the lungs of the bystanders as they 
breathed, and provided they were but predisposed for its reception, 
as above stated, continually produced it. It may be considered as 
certain that mere manual contact was not sufficient to communi- 
cate the infection, and that this was propagated, either by the pes- 
tilential atmosphere which surrounded the beds of the sick, or by 
exhalations generated in unclean situations where there was no 
vent for their escape. On this account it was that the residence 
at common inns and public-houses was looked upon as dangerous.' 
I would not, however, be understood to maintain that, during 
the three epidemics with which, up to the present stage of our 
inquiry, we have become acquainted, the spread of the sweating 
fever alone was occasioned by infection ; for if the general epi- 
demic causes were powerful enough to excite the disease, without 
any previously existing poison, why might they not produce the 
same effect still more independently throughout the course of the 
pestilence, since, as is the case in all epidemics, those causes in 
all probability continued to increase in intensity ? That the 
plague grew worse on the occasion of any great assemblages of the 
people, was at that time known, and the notion of contagion 
thence very naturally arose. Yet, must it here be taken into 
account, that even without this notion, and merely from the as- 
semblage itself of many people in whom the like malady was 
germinating, and already had shown tokens of its approach, that 
approach might easily be accelerated, and the disease increased 
among those merely slightly indisposed, by the reciprocal com- 
munication of morbid exhalations. For as the predisposition 
to any malady, which is an intermediate condition between that 
malady and the previous state of good health,^ plainly displays 
the properties of the disease in those whom it threatens to attack, 
so these exhalations (or epidemic causes which give rise to Sweat- 
ing Sickness in the first instance) certainly differ from those 
which occur in a sweating sickness which has already broken out, 
only in unessential respects, and might consequently stimulate 
the mere disposition to the disease more and more, even to the 
actual eruption of the disease itself. Yet a contagion was like- 

' " quod vulgaria diversoria parum hita sunt a contagio sceleratce pestis, quae 

nnper ab Anglis — in nostras regiones demigravit," speaking of the English Sweating 
Sickness in Germany (1529). Erasm. Epist. L. xx\ai. ep. 16. col. 1519. c. 

- Broicn's "Opportunity." 


wise in operation at the same time, whicli was destructive even to 
the temperate, and to those who were apparently in health, nay, 
even to foreigners, who were living in an English atmosphere and 
on English food, as the example of the Italian Ammonius plainly 

In all epidemics which increase to such a degree as to become 
contagious, it is of importance to distinguish which of these 
causes are the more powerful, the predisposing or epidemic causes, 
which originate the proneness to the disease, or the proximate 
causes, among which, in the generality of cases, contagion is the 
most prominent. The predisposing were here evidently the more 
operative ; contagion was not added till the disease was at its 
height, and although it contributed not a little to its spread, yet 
it always remained subordinate to the other sources of the disease, 
and all the matter of infection vanished without a trace, on the 
cessation of the disorder, so that the subsequent eruptions of it 
were always produced by the renewal of those general causes 
which are in operation upon and under the earth. It is, however, 
as little within the compass of human knowledge to discover the 
essential foundation of this renewal, as the proximate causes of 
the appearance of the mould spots at the commencement of the 
sixteenth century, or any other of those processes which are pre- 
pared and brought into activity by the hidden powers of nature. 

Sect. 6. — Influenzas. 

Several epidemics thus originating in causes beyond human 
comprehension appeared in the 16th century. Among the most 
remarkable was a violent and extensive catarrhal fever in 1510, 
of that kind which the Italians call Influenza, thus recognising 
an inscrutable influence which affects numberless persons at the 
same time. It prevailed principally in France, but probably 
also over the rest of Europe, of which, however, the accounts do 
not inform us, for in those times they took little pains to record 
the particulars of epidemics which were not of a character to 
affect life. According to recent experience we should be warrant- 
ed even in supposing that this malady had its origin in the re- 
motest parts of the East. During the whole of the winter, 
which was very cold, violent storms of wind prevailed, and the 
north and middle of Italy were shaken by frequent earthquakes; 
whereupon there followed so general a sickness in France, that 

' Erasni. Epist. L. ^ii. ep. 4. col. 386. 


we are assured by the historians that few of the inhabitants 
escaped it. The catarrhal symptoms, which on the appearance of 
disorders of this kind usually form their commencement, seem ta 
have been quite thrown into the background by those of violent, 
rheumatism and inflammation. The patient was first seized with 
giddiness and severe headache; then came on a shooting pain 
through the shoulders, and extending to the thighs. The loins 
too were affected with intolerably painful dartings, during which 
an inflammatory fever set in with delirium and violent excitement. 
In some the parotid glands became inflamed, and even the digest- 
ive organs participated in the deep-rooted malady ; for those 
affected had, together with constant oppression at the stomach, a 
great loathing for all animal food, and a dislike even to wine. 
Among the poor as well as the rich many died, and some quite 
suddenly, of this strange disease, in the treatment of which the 
physicians shortened life not a little by their purgative treatment 
and phlebotomy, seeking an excuse for their ignorance in the in- 
fluence of the constellations, and alleging that astral diseases 
were beyond the reach of human art.^ 

From this prejudicial effect of our chief antiphlogistic remedy, 
bleeding, as well as of evacuations from the bowels, we may con- 
clude that the disease, though in its commencement rheumatic, 
yet had an essential tendency to produce relaxation and debility 
of the nerves, and in this respect, as well as in its extension to all 
classes, accorded with the modern influenzas, in which the same 
phenomena have manifested themselves, only much less vividly 
and plainly. The French, who, from the levity of their character, 
have always called serious things by jocose names, designate this 
disease " Coqueluche " (the monk's hood), because, owing to the 
extreme sensibility of the skin to cold and currents of air, this 
kind of hood was generally necessary, and was a protection 
against an attack of the malady, as well as against its increase. 
That in the accounts, which are, to be sure, very incomplete, 
there should be no express mention of any affection of the air- 
passages, is remarkable, since this could not in all likelihood have 
failed to exist ; although it might perhaps have been only slight- 
ly manifested. Nearly a century before (1414), this affection 
appeared far more prominently on the occurrence of a no less 
general disorder of the same kind ; so that all those who had the 
complaint, suffered from a considerable hoarseness, and all public 

' Mezeray, T. II. p. 853. Pare, p. 823. Holler, Comm. II. in secund. sect. Coac. 
Hippocrat. p. 323. 


business in Paris was interrupted on this account.' It was on 
that very occasion that the name Coqueluche was first employed, 
and this having, as is well known, been transferred to the 
whooping-cough, it is easier to suppose, with respect to the in- 
fluenza of 1510, which was similarly named, an omission in the 
account, than the real absence of a symptom so very generally 
prevalent ; for in these kinds of comparisons and denominations, 
the common sense of the people errs much less than the learned 
profundity of political historians. 

We must not omit here to remark that three years before 
(1411), and thirteen years afterwards, two diseases, entirely 
similar and equally general, made their appearance in France, 
of which we nowhere find that any notice has been taken up to 
the present time. The first was called Tac, the second Ladendo, 
which designations have since entirely gone out of use. Both 
were accompanied by very severe cough, so that in the former, 
ruptures not unfrequently occurred, and pregnant women were in 
consequence prematurely confined, and by the latter, from its 
universality, the public worship was disturbed. In the ladendo, 
there seems to have been an affection of the kidney of an inflam- 
matory character, and much more severe than in the coqueluche 
of 1510, a memorable example of epidemic influence, and without 
a parallel in modern times. This pain in the kidneys, which 
was as severe as a fit of the stone, was followed by fever with 
loss of appetite, and an incessant cough that terminated in dis- 
agreeable eruptions about the mouth and nose. The disorder ran 
a course of about fifteen daj's, and was generally prevalent 
throughout October, being unattended with danger, notwithstand- 
ing the severity of its s3'mptoms. One might almost be tempted 
to regard the tac of 1411 as the coqueluche of 1414, which is 
only slightly alluded to by Mezeray, and whereof the author 
from whom we are now quoting has made no mention ; for a 
false date might easily occur here. Yet this mvist remain un- 
decided until we can obtain fuller information, for we have ex- 
perienced, even in the most recent times, an example of influenzas 
(1831 and 1833) following each other in quick succession. Gas- 
tric symptoms and an inordinate degree of irritability accompanied 
the spasmodic cough, and the complaint terminated with evacu- 

' " Un etrange rhume qu'on norama coqueluche, lequel tourmenta toute sorte de 
personnes, et leur rendit la voix si enrouee, que le barreau et les colleges en furent 
rauets." — Mezeray. Compare Diderot et d'Alembert, Encyclopedic ou Dictionnaire 
raisonne des Sciences, etc. T. IV. p. 182. 


ations of blood. However, the disease was unattended with 
danger, and lasted upon the whole only three weeks.' 

Four other epidemics similar to that of 1510 appeared in the 
sixteenth century, two which were quite general in the years 1557 
and 1580, and two less extensively prevalent in the years 1551 
and 1564.^ Of the two former we possess accurate descriptions; 
it will therefore aid us in forming a correct judgment respecting 
the influenza of 1510, if we here take a review of these also, since 
the most experienced contemporaries classed all these disorders 
together as of a similar kind. During the dry unfavourable sum- 
mer of 1557, invalids were suddenly seized with hoarseness and 
oppression at the chest, accompanied with a pressure on the head, 
and followed by shivering and such a violent cough, that they 
thought they should be suffocated, especially during the night. 
This cough was dry at first, but about the seventh day, or even 
later, an abundant secretion took place either of thick mucus or of 
thin frothy fluid. Upon this the cough somewhat abated, and the 
breathing became freer. During the whole course of the disorder, 
however, patients complained of insufferable languor, loss of 
strength, want of appetite, and even nausea at the sight of food, 
restlessness and want of sleep. The malady ended in most cases 
in abundant perspiration, but occasionally in diarrhoea. Ricb and 

^ Pasquier, Livi'. lA^. Ch. 28, p. 375, 376. The following is the passage. "En I'an 
1411, y eut une autre sorte de maladie, dont une infinite de personnes fureut touchez, 
par laquelle on perdoit le boire, le manger et le dormir, et toutefois et quantes que le 
malade maugeoit, il auoit une forte fievre ; ce qu'il niangeoit luy sembloit amcr ou 
puant, tousiours trembloit, et auec ce estoit si las et rompu de ses membres, que Ton ne 
I'osoit toucher en quel que part que ce fust : Aussi estoit ce mal accompagne d' une forte 
toux, qui tourmentoit son homiue iour et nuit, laquelle maladie dura trois semaines en- 
tieres, sans qu'une personne en mourust. Bien est vray que par la vehemence de la 
toux plusieurs hommes se rompirent par les genitoires, et plusieurs femmes accouchereut 
avant le terme. Et quand venoit au guerir, ils iettoient grande effusion de sang par la 
bouche, le nez et lefondement, sans qiCaucun medecin peust iuger dont procedoit ce mal, 
sino7i d'zme geyierale contagion de I'air, dont la cause leur estoit cachee. Cette 
maladie fut appellee le Tac : et tel autrefois a souhaite par risee ou imprecation le mal 
du Tac a son compagnon, qui nc scjavoit pas que c'estoit. — L'an 1427, vers la S. Eemy 
(1 Oct.) cheut un autre air corrompu qui engendra une tres mauvaise maladie, que Ton 
appelloit Xa6?eMc?o (dit un auteur de ce temps la) en'y auoit homme ou femme, qui 
presque ne s'en sentist durant le temps qu'elle dura. Elle commengoit aitx 7-eins, comme 
si on eust eu une forte gravelle, en apres venoient les frissons, et estoit en bien huict ou 
dix iours qu'on ne pouvoit bonnement boire, ne manger, ne dormir. Apres ce venoit 
line toux si mauvaise, que quand ou estoit au Sermon, on ne pouvoit entendre ce que le 
Sermonateur disoit par la grande noise des tousseurs. Item elle eust une tres forte 
duree jusques apres la Toussaincts (1 Nov.) bien quinze iours ou plus. Et n'eussiez 
gueres veu homme ou femme qui n'eust la bouche ou le nez tout esseue de grosse rongne, 
et s'entre-mocquoit le peiiple I'un de 1' autre, disant : As tu point eu Ladendo ? " 

^ Reusner, p. 75. 


poor, people of every occupation and of all ages, were seized with 
this disease in whole crowds simultaneously, and it passed easily 
from a single case to a whole household. On this occasion death 
rarely occurred, except in children who had not power to endure 
the severity of the cough, and medicine was of little avail, either 
in alleviating the disorder or arresting its destructive course. The 
already established name of this disease was immediately called to 
mind again in France. It was not, however, confined to that 
kingdom, but prevailed as generally, with some considerable 
varieties of form, in Italy, Germany, Holland, and doubtless over 
a still wider range of country.^ The same was the case with the 
influenza of 1580, which spread over the whole of Europe, and 
seems to have been less severe ; thus bearing a closer resemblance^ 
to that of 1831 and 1833, which is still in the recollection of most 
of our readers from their own experience. A more elaborate re- 
search into this very important subject would far surpass the 
limits of this treatise, for phenomena deeply aiFecting the whole 
system of human collective life are here to be considered, which 
can only become apparent when received as a connected whole, 
yet we must at least point out the relation which the influenzas 
bear to the greater epidemics. This is quite apparent ; for as 
catarrhs are not unfrequently the forerunners, accompaniments, or 
sequela3 of important diseases in individual cases,^ excitement of 
the mucous membrane being often merely an outward sign of more 
deeply-seated commotion, so also are influenzas usually only the 
first manifestations, hut sometimes also the last remains of ex- 
tensive epidemics. The most recent example is still fresh in our 
memories. The influenza of 1831 was immediately followed by 

• Valleriola, Loc. med. Comm. Append, p. 45. Schenck a Grafenberg, Lib. YI. p. 
552. Compare Short, T. I. p. 221. 

2 Reusner, p. 72. Some of the synonymes here adduced will show the medical views 
of the period respecting these diseases : Catarrhus febrilis. Febris catarrhosa. Ardores 
suffocantes. Febris suffocativa. Catarrhus epidemicus. Tussis popularis. Cephalasa 
catarrhosa. Cephalalgia contagiosa. Gravedo anhehsa, Ferncl. Der bohmische Ziep 
(the Bohemian pip). Der schafhiisten (the sheep-cough). Die schafkrankheit (the 
sheep disease). Die lungensucht (phthisis). Das Hiihncrweh (the poultry cough, or 
chicken contracted to chin-cough), and many others. In the influenza of 1580, violent 
perspiration was occasionally observed, so that some physicians thought that the English 
sweating sickness was about to return, just as in the Grijninger intermittent (1826), and 
in the cholera of 1831, without any knowledge on the subject, they talked of the Black 
Death.— Sc/(nei(fer, L. IV. c. 6. p. 203. 

3 That the physicians of the sixteenth century were familiar with this observation, is 
proved by the following quotation from Iloulier. " Nulla fere corporis humani ajgritudo 
est, qu;e non defluxione humoris alicuius c capite aut excitari aut incrementum accipere 
possit." Morb. int. L. I. fol. 68. b. 

EPIDEMICS OF 1517. 207 

the Indian cholera, and scarcely had this, after its revival in 
Eastern and central Europe, vanished, when the influenza of 1833 
appeared, as if to announce a general peace. After the influenza 
of 1510, a plague followed in the north of Europe, which in Den- 
mark carried ofi" the son of King John ; ' 1551 was the year of the 
fifth epidemic sweating sickness. In 1557, the influenza in Hol- 
land was followed by a bubo plague, which lasted the following 
year, and carried off" 5000 of the inhabitants at Delft.'-^ In 1564, 
a very destructive plague raged in Spain, of which 10,000 people 
died at Barcelona, and finally, in 1580, the last year of influenza 
in that century, a plague of which 40,000 died in Paris, appeared 
over the greater part of Europe and in Egypt." 

Sect. 7. — Epidemics of 1517. 

We now revert to the year 1517, and shall consider the epi- 
demics w^hich accompanied the English sweating sickness. First 
of all, the Hauptkrankheit, that brain fever which so often re- 
curred in the central parts of Europe, appeared extensively 
throughout Germany. Many died of this dangerous disease, and 
"we are assured by contemporaries that other intercurrent inflam- 
matory fevers were also very fatal.* Such was the case in Ger- 
many, the heart of Europe. Another disease, however, much more 
important, and till that time wholly unknown to m.edical men, 
appeared in Holland, which broke out in January, 1517, and from 
its dangerous and quite inexplicable s5^mptoms, spread fear and 
horror around. It was a malignant, and, according to the assur- 
ance of a very respectable medical eye-witness, an infectious in- 
flammation of the throat, so rapid in its course that, unless assist- 
ance were procured within the first eight hours, the patient was 
past all hope of recovery before the close of the day. Sudden 
pains in the throat, and violent oppression of the chest, especially 
in the region of the heart, threatened suffocation, and at length 
actually produced it. During the paroxysms the muscles of the 
throat and chest were seized with violent spasm, and there were 
but short intervals of alleviation before a repetition of such seizures 
terminated in death. Unattended by any premonitory symptoms, 
the disease began with a severe catarrhal affection of the chest, 
which speedily advanced to inflammation of the air passages, and 

' Ilvitfeldt, Danmarks Eiges Kronike. 2 Forest, Lib. VI. Obs. IX. p. 169. 

3 Webster, vol. I. p. 157. 165. VilMba, T. I. p. 102. 117-, and Schnurrer. 
* Spanffenberff, M. Chr. fol. 408. b. 


where death did not occur on the day of the attack, ran on to a 
dangerous inflammation of the lungs, which followed the usual 
course, but was accompanied by a very high fever. Occasionally 
a less perilous transition into intermittent fever was observed, but 
in no case did a sudden recovery take place ; for even when the 
fever subsided, the patient continued to suffer, for at least a month, 
from pain in the stomach and great debility, which symptoms 
admit of easy explanation to a medical man of the present day, 
from the fissures and small ulcers of the tongue, which appeared 
when the fever was at its height, and obstinately resisted the 
usual treatment. 

The remedies employed show the circumspection and ability of 
the Dutch physicians. They had recourse, as soon as possible, at 
the latest within six hours, to venesection, and followed this up 
immediately by purgatives, of which, however, some eminent men 
disapproved, and this to the great detriment of their patients, for 
without the combined effect of both these means, the sudden suffo- 
cation could not be averted. Moreover, the employment of 
detergent gargles, whereby the extension of the affection to the 
lungs was prevented, as also of demulcent pectoral remedies, was 
decidedly beneficial, and it is affirmed that all who were thus 
treated were easily restored.' 

Extraoi'dinary and peculiar as this disease, for which contem- 
poraries found no name, was, its rapid onset and its sudden dis- 
appearance were still more so. Most of those affected were taken 
ill at the same time, and eleven days of suffering and misery had 
scarcely elapsed when not another case occurred ; the numbers 
who had fallen victims were buried ; and but for the journal of 
the worthy Tj^engius,'- no distinct record would have existed of 
this remarkable epidemic, which however, it is certain, spread 
further than merely over the misty territory of Holland, and ap- 
parently with still greater malignity ; for in the same year we 
find it in Basle, where, within the space of eight months, it 
destroyed about 2000 people, and its symptoms would seem to 
have been still more strongly marked. Respecting the interme- 
diate countries, which it is highly probable that the disease pass- 
ed through from Holland before it reached Basle, we unfortunate- 
ly have no information. The tongue and gullet were white as if 
covered with mould, the patient had an aversion to food and 

1 Tijengius, in Forest: Lib. VI. Obs. II. Schol. p. 152. 

2 Forest availed himself of the imprinted and probably lost works of this distinguish- 
ed physician, of whom, but for him, we should have kno^vn nothing. 

EPIDEMICS OF 1517. 209 

drink, and suffered from malignant fever, accompanied with 
continued headache and delirium. Here also, in addition to an 
internal method of cure which has not been particularly detailed, 
the cleansing of the mouth was perceived to be an essential part 
of the treatment : the viscous white coating was removed every 
two hours, and the tongue and fauces were afterwards smeared 
with honey of roses, ^ whereby patients were restored more easily 
than when this precaution was omitted. ^ 

It appears, according to modern experience, to admit of no 
doubt that this disease consisted of an inflammation of the mu- 
cous membrane which, accompanied by a secretion of lymph, 
spread from the ossophagus to the stomach, and likewise through 
the air passages to the lungs, being thus identical with pharyngeal 
croup, which was represented a few years ago as a new disease, 
and has in consequence been designated by a special name.^ Its 
subsequent appearance in the memorable year 1557, respecting 
which we have a still more complete account, gives additional 
weight to this supposition. In that year it broke out in October, 
and was observed by Forest, who was himself the subject of it, 
at Alkmaar, where it attacked whole families, and in the course 
of a few weeks destroyed more than 200 people. It was not, 
however, so excessively rapid in its course as in 1517, but began 
with a slight fever like a common catarrh, and showed its great 
malignity only by degrees. Sudden fits of sufibcation then came 
on, and the pain of the chest was so dreadfully distressing that 
the sufferers imagined they must die in the paroxysm. The com- 
plaint was increased still more by a tight convulsive cough, and 
until this was relieved by a secretion of mucus, proved dangerous, 
especially to pregnant women, sixteen of whom died within the 
space of eight days, whilst those who survived were all permature- 
ly brought to bed. The fever which accompanied the inflamma- 
tion was very various in its course. It was rarely observed to 
continue without intermission, but where this was the case, was 

1 The moderns, who prefer powerful remedies, employ for this purpose, without any- 
better effect, the lunar caustic. 

2 Wurstisen, p. 707. In this seventeenth year there arose an unknown epidemic. 
The patients' tongues and gullets were white, as if coated with moidd ; they could 
neither eat nor drink, hut suffered from headache together with a pestilential fever 
which rendered them delirious. By this disease 2000 persons perished in Basle with- 
in the space of eight months. Besides other means, it was found very efficacious to 
cleanse the mouth and gullet every two hours, even to the extent of making the surface 
bleed, and then to soften them \vith honey of roses. 

^ Bretonneau'' s Diphtheritis. Compare Naumann's treatise on the subject in tlie 
author's Wissenschaftlichen Annalen der ges. HeUkunde, Vol. XXV. II. 3. p. 271. 



attended witli the greatest peril. Yet death did not take place 
on this visitation until the ninth or fourteenth day, whereas in 
the year 1517 as many hours would have sufficed to produce a 
fatal termination. After this period the danger diminished, and 
those patients v/ere most secure from suffocation, provided they 
had good medical attendance, whose complaint had been accom- 
panied throughout its course by fever of only an intermittent 
character. So marked was the influence of the Dutch soil, that 
until this intermittent passed into continued fever of different 
gradations, it appeared of the purest and most unmixed type. 
In these cases the inflammation was less completely formed, so 
that even bleeding, a remedy otherwise indispensable, was some- 
times unnecessary. Those affected all suffered most at night and 
in the morning, the latter generally bringing with it the inflam- 
mation of the larynx and trachea, which, however, they had not 
at that time experience enough to recognise as such, perceiving 
as they did only a slight redness in the fauces. The painful 
affection of the stomach was also in this epidemic very distinctly 
marked, so that a sense of pressure at the praecordia, accompanied 
by continual acid eructations, continued to exist even after a suc- 
cession of six or seven fits of fever ; and convalescents were 
troubled for a long time with dyspepsia, debility, and hypochon- 
driasis. The inflammation of the mucous membrane, no doubt, 
affected the nervous plexuses of the abdomen, as is usually the case, 
and totally changed the secretion. This was proved by the treat- 
ment, for, by administering the necessary purgative remedies, a 
vast quantity of offensive mucus, mixed with bile, was evacuated. 
Our excellent eye-witness assures us that the people sickened 
as suddenly as if they had inhaled a poisonous blast, so that more 
than a thousand people in Alkmaar betook themselves to their 
beds in a single day, a thick stinking mist having previously for 
several days spread over the land. This pestilence did not ter- 
minate so speedily as that of the year 1517 ; on the contrary, it 
delayed until the winter, and seems to have formed the conclusion 
of a whole series of morbid phenomena, particularly of the already- 
mentioned influenza throughout Europe, and of the bubo plague 
in Holland, which had occurred in the middle of the summer, — 
phenomena that were accompanied by the usual attendants of 
epidemics, namely, great scarcity, and unusual occurrences in the 
atmosphere, such, for instance, as electric illuminations of promi- 
nent objects, and so forth. ' 

^ Forest. Lib. VI. obs. ix. p. 159. 

EPIDEMICS OF 1517. 211 

The close connexion between this inflammation of tlie air- 
passages and gullet and the epidemic catarrh is quite apparent ; 
for these are but gradations and gradual transitions in the affec- 
tion of the mucous membrane, as also in the power of atmospheri- 
cal causes, which especially influence the organs of respiration. 
"We believe, therefore, that we are fully justified in classing the 
epidemic described to have taken place in Holland and Germany 
in 1517, with the influenzas ; and in declaring the morbid com- 
motion in human collective life which thus manifested itself, to 
have been a forerunner of the English pestilence, which was 
simultaneously prepared by the altered condition of the atmo- 
sphere, and broke out a few months later. 

We ought not to omit here to mention that, in this same year, 
1517, the small-pox, and with it, as field-poppies among corn, the 
measles, was conveyed by Europeans to Hispaniola, and commit- 
ted dreadful ravages at that time, as afterwards, among the un- 
fortunate inhabitants. Whether the eruption of these infectious 
diseases in the New World was favoured by an epidemic influence 
or not, can no longer be ascertained ; yet the afiirraative seems 
probable from the fact, that the small-pox did not commit its 
greatest ravages in Hispaniola^ until the following year, and, ac- 
cording to recent experience, those epidemic influences which ex- 
tend from Europe westward, always require some time to reach 
the eastern coasts of America. 

But even without this phenomenon in the New World, which 
is now for the first time placed within the pale of observations on 
epidemics, we have facts at hand sufiiciently numerous and 
worthy of credit to prove — that the English Sweating Sickness of 
1517 made its appearance, not alone, hut surrounded by a. whole 
group of epidemics, and that these were called forth hy general 
morbific influences of an unknown nature. 

1 Petr. Martyr. Dec. IV. cap. 10. p. 321. Compare Moore, p. 106. 

14 * 




" Uiid wenn die Welt voll Teufel war', 
Und wollten uns verschliugen ; 
So fiirchten wir uns niclit so sehr, 
Es soil uns doch gelingen I " — Luther. 

Sect. 1. — Destroction of the Fkench Army before Naples, 1528. 

The events to vvliicli we are now about to allude, demonstrate, 
by their surprising course, that the fate of nations is at times far 
more dependent on the laws of physical life than on the will of 
potentates or the collective efforts of human action, and that these 
prove utterly impotent when opposed to the unfettered powers of 
nature. These powers, inscrutable in their dominion, destructive 
in their effects, stay the course of events, bafHe the grandest 
plans, paralyse the boldest flights of the mind, and when victory 
seemed within their grasp, have often annihilated embattled hosts 
with the flaming sword of the angel of death. 

To obliterate the disgrace of Pavia,^ Francis I., in league with 
England, Switzerland, Rome, Genoa, and Venice against the too 
powerful Emperor of Germany, sent a fine army into Italy. The 
emperor's troops gave way wherever the French plumes appeared, 
and victory seemed faithful only to the banners of France and to 
the military experience of a tried leader.^ Everything promised 
a glorious issue ; Naples alone, weakly defended by German 
lansquenets and Spaniards,^ remained still to be vanquished. The 
siege was opened on the 1st of May, 1528, and the general con- 
fidently pledged his honour for the conquest of this strong city, 
which had once been so destructive to the French.* It was easy 
with an army of 30,000 veteran warriors^ to overpower the im- 
perialists ; and a small body of English ^ seemed to have come 
merely to partake in the festivals after the expected victory. The 
city too suffered from a scarcity, for it was blockaded by Doria, 
with his Genoese galleys ; and water, fit to drink, failed after 
Lautrec had turned off the aqueducts of Poggio reale ; so that the 

1 24th of Feb. 1525. 2 Lautrec. 

3 At first under Hugo de Moncada ; afterwards under the Prince of Orange. 
* 1495, the year of the epidemic Lues. 
5 Among them some regiments of Swiss. 

s Two hundred knights under Sir Robert Jerningham, and afterwards under Careio : 
both died of the Camp Fever. Herbert of Cherbunj, p. 212. scq. 


plague, which had never entirely ceased among the Germans 
since the sacking of Rome/ began to spread. 

But amidst this confidence in the success of the French arms, 
the means for ensuring it were gradually neglected. The valour 
of the intrepid and prudent commander was doubtless equal to 
the minor vicissitudes of war, but whilst the length of the delay 
paralysed the activity, nature herself suddenly proved fatal to 
this hitherto victorious army ; pestilences began to rage among 
the troops, and human courage could no longer withstand the 
''far-shooting arrows of the god of day." The consequence was, 
that within the space of seven weeks, out of the whole host which 
up to that period had been eager for combat, a mere handful 
remained, consisting of a few thousands of cadaverous figures, 
who were almost incapable of bearing arms or of following the 
commands of their sick leaders. On the 29th of August the siege 
was raised, fifteen days after the heroic Lautrec, bowed down by 
chagrin and disease, had resigned his breath ; the wreck of the 
army retreated amid thunder and heavy rain/ and were soon 
captured by the imperialists, so that but few of them ever saw 
their native land again. 

This siege brought still greater misery upon France than even 
the fatal battle of Pavia, for about 5000 of the French nobility, 
some from the most distinguished families, had perished under 
the walls of Naples ; its remoter consequences too were humiliat- 
ing to the king and the people ; since owing to its failure all 
those hitherto feasible schemes were blighted, which had for their 
object the establishment of French dominion bej'ond the Alps. 
It behoves us, therefore, to pay so much the more attention to 
those essential causes of this event, which fall within the province 
of medical research. 

The mortality which occurred in the camp began probably as 
early as June, after the usual calamities which surround an army 
in an enemy's country. The French and Swiss were insatiable 
in their indulgence in fruit, which the gardens and fields furnish- 
ed them in abundance, whilst there was a scarcity of bread and of 
other proper food.^ Hence fevers soon broke out, which increased 
in malignity the longer they existed, accompanied no doubt by 
debilitating diarrhoeas, which never fail to make their appearance 
under circumstances of this kind, and are in themselves among 
the most pernicious of camp diseases, since the}^ not only destroy 

1 The Gth of May, 1527. 
2 Jovius, L. XXVI. Tom. II. p. 129. ' Ibid. p. 114. 


in the individual case by the exhaustion which they occasion, 
but likewise, by infecting the air, prepare the way for the worst 

These diseases were, however, little noticed, and there was con- 
sequently no attempt made to diminish their causes. It became 
daily more and more apparent, that the cutting off of the sources 
near Poggio reale, which Lautrec had commanded, in order to 
compel the besieged to a more speedy surrender, was in the high- 
est degree injurious to the besiegei's themselves ; for the water, 
haring now no outlet, spread over the plain where the camp was 
situated, which it converted into a swamp, whence it rose, morn- 
ing and evening, in the form of thick fogs. From this cause, and 
while a southerly wind continued to prevail, the sickness soon be- 
came general. Those soldiers, who were not already confined to 
bed in their tents, were seen with pallid visages, swelled legs, and 
bloated bellies, scarcely able to crawl ; so that, weary of nightly 
watching, they were often plundered by the marauding Neapo- 
litans. The great mortality did not commence until about the 
15th of July, but so dreadful was its ravages, that about three 
weeks were sufficient to complete the almost entire destruction of 
the army.^ Around and within the tents vacated by the death of 
their inmates, noxious weeds sprang up. Thousands perished 
without help, either in a state of stupor, or in the raving delirium 
of fever.- In the entrenchments, in the tents, and wherever 
death had overtaken his victims, there unburied corpses lay, and 
the dead that were interred, swollen with putridity, burst their 
shallow graves, and spread a poisonous stench far and wide over 
the camp. There was no longer any thought of order or military 
discipline, and many of the commanders and captains were either 
sick themselves, or had fled to the neighbouring towns, in order 
to avoid the contagion.^ 

The glory of the French arms was departed, and her proud 
banners cowered beneath an unhallowed spectre. ^Meanwhile, the 
pestilence broke out among the Tenetian galleys under Pietro 
Lando. Doria had already gone over to the Emperor,* and thus 

- According to Mezeray, the pestilence was at its height at the end of Julv. This 
is in accordance with Jovius, who fixes the termination of the great mortality, with 
rather too much precision perhaps, on the 7th of August. 

- With reference to this seemingly inflammatory state of excitement, it is, perhaps, 
worthy of notice, that the commander-in-chief himself is stated to have been twice bled. 
Jovius, loc. cit. p. 125. 

' Jovius, loc. cit. p. 116 — 113. 
* Me:era>/, T. II. p. 963. 


was this expedition, begun under the most favourable auspices, 
frustrated on every side by the malignant influence of the 

'No medical contemporary has described the nature of this 
violent disease, and historians have on this point preserved only 
general outlines, which do not afford sufficient materials to ground 
an investigation. Certain it is, that in the year 1528, a very ma- 
lignant petechial fever extended throughout Italy, and in the pro- 
per sense of the word prevailed so decidedly, that it even followed 
the Italians abroad in the same way as the Sweating Sickness did 
the English, as is proved by the case of the learned Yenetian 
Naugerio, who, being despatched on an embassy to Francis the 1st, 
died at Blois on the Loire, of this very disease, with which the 
French had yet no acquaintance.^ Contemporaries assure us, that 
this epidemic committed great ravages in the country, already 
distracted by wars and feuds, and it is therefore hardly to be 
doubted, that, occurring as it did in those same years, it was the 
disease of which we have been treating, the malignity of which 
was increased on extraordinary occasions. A pestilence which, 
just before the siege of Naples, destroyed one-third of the inhabit- 
ants of Cremona, was in all probability the petechial fever.^ Yet, 
here and there, the old bubo plague made its appearance. This 
it was which in the year 1524 carried off 50,000 people in Milan, ^ 
and this appears likewise to have been the disease which, after the 
sacking of Rome, broke out among the German lansquenets, and 
in a short time annihilated two-thirds of these troops. Contem- 
poraries saw therein God's just punishment of their desecration of 
the Holy See, for in the succeeding years, all the remaining par- 
ticipators in the storming of the eternal city also met with an 
end worthy of their crimes.'* They did not take into account, 
however, the beastly intemperance and excesses of the soldiery, 
whose eagerness after plunder led them to encounter the plague 
poison in the most secret holes and corners ; nor did they reflect, 
that the plague penetrated the Castle of St. Angelo itself, and 
destroyed some of the courtiers almost under the eyes of the 
Pope.^ Of these lansquenets, many went to Naples in the fol- 
lowing year under the Prince of Orange, and it may with good 

^ Fracastor. Morb. Contag. L. II. c. 6. p. loo, 156. 

- It broke out in the beginning of Februarj', and prevailed tlirougbout the following 
month. Campo^ p. 151. 

3 Guicciardini, p. 1054. ■• Mezeraij, T. II. p. 957. 

5 Guicciardini, p. 1276. 


ground be supposed, that they took with them to that city fresh 
germs of plague ; to which may be added, the by no means incre- 
dible story, that the besieged sent infected and sick soldiers to the 
French, in order to cause poisonous pestilences to break out 
among them.' This very circumstance tells in favour of bubo 
plague, for the decided certainty of its contagious nature was 
known, and seemed beyond all comparison greater than the more 
conditional communicability of the new disease.^ Moreover, the 
same attempt at impestation had been already often made in 
earlier times. 

It is, however, also to be considered, on the other side, that the 
French army was more exposed to the epidemic influence of the 
air, the water, and the general powers of nature, than any other 
assemblage of men, and, that tliis influence was probably more 
powerful in the year 1529, than at any other time during the 
sixteenth century. The formation of fog in the heat of summer 
is at all times an extraordinary phenomenon,^ which decidedly 
indicates a disproportion in the mutual action of'the components 
and powers of the lower strata of the atmosphere. This was 
not dependent merely on the local peculiarities of Naples, for 
during the summer of 1528, grey fogs were observed through- 
out Italy, which rendered the unwholesome quality of the air 
visible to the eye.^ This was increased by the prevalence of 
southerly winds, which are always, in Italy, prejudicial to health, 
as also by the thousand privations of a camp, so that a disease 
which was already prevalent all over Italy — we allude to the 
'petechial fever — might well break out on the damp soil of Poggio 
reale. In the history of national diseases, we find a moral proof 
of the predominance of epidemic influence, which plainly and 
intelligibly manifests itself under the greatest variety of circum- 
stances. This is a belief, that the water and even the air is 
poisoned.'^ Nor is this proof wanting in the deplorable history of 
the French army before Naples, for it was generally believed, 
that some Spaniards of Moorish descent, to whom was attributed 
an especial degree of skill in the management of poison, and 
some Jews from Germany, who, for the sake of gain, had follow- 
ed the lansquenets to truckle for their booty, had stolen out of the 

' Guicciardini, p. 1315. 
2 See above, p. 186. 

* It was also observed, as is well known, in the summer of 1831, before the breaking 
ont of the cholera. 

* Gratiol, p. 129, 130. 5 See above, p. 189. 


city under cover of the niglit, in order to poison the water in the 
neighbourhood of the camp.^ It was also surmised, that an 
Italian apothecary had administered to the French knights poi- 
s6n in their medicine.^ We will not anticipate on this occasion 
the researches of naturalists, whose experiments on air and water, 
during important epidemics, have not yet led to any results ; it 
is, however, not improbable that pond and spring water, under 
such circumstances as are here described to have occurred, might 
become impregnated with a noxious quality, not inherent in it, 
which would very naturally give rise to the belief that a poison 
had been thrown into it. On the whole, this accusation may 
certainly be judged acccording to the same views which have 
been stated in our treatise on the Black Death, 

From all these circumstances, the notion is highly probable 
that it was the petechial fever which raged in the French camp ; 
and if we may attach any importance to the incidental accounts 
of historians, it may perhaps be to the purpose to state that Pru- 
dencio de Sandoval, who has written from authentic materials, calls 
the disease "lasbubas."^ This name, it is true, presupposes a 
rather strange confusion of petechial fever with lues ; and, indeed, 
the diseases among the French troops from 1495 to 1528, have 
been oddly jumbled together by Sandoval. It shows, however, 
that there still existed a recollection of the prevalent eruptions 
which occurred in the pestilence of 1528 ; and, therefore, this 
whole account might perhaps be the more justly applied to 
petechial fever, as this same historian states, that the French 
called the disease after the village of Poggio reale "les Poches,"^ 
by which name the well-known bubo plague would hardly have 
been designated. If, however, we choose to suppose that at one 
and the same time different diseases prevailed in the French 
army, this notion is not only supported by the express testimony 
of a contemporary,^ but also by many observations ancient and 
modern,^ that have been made in cases where the circumstances 

^ Jovius, loc. cit. p. 115. * Mezeray, p. 963. 

3 The Spanish name for the lues venerea, -which it ohtained in consequence of the 
prevailing eruptions. It corresponds with the French " la verole," and with the Ger- 
man " franzosische Pocken." "We must not, therefore, think that it means " buboes." 
Sandoval, Part II. pp. 12. 14. Compare Astruc, T. I. p. 4. 

4 In the Madrid edition of the same work, 1675. fol. L. XVII. p. 232. b. 

5 " Auster namque ventus per eos dies perflare et mortiferum crassioris nebulte va- 
porem ex palustri ortum uligine, per castra dissipare et circumferre ita coeperat, tit alns 
ex causis conceptm febres in contagiosum morbum verterentur." Jovius, L. XXVI. p. 

^ In Torgau, where, in 1813 and 1814, 30,000 Frenchmen found their graves, there 


have been similar to those which then prevailed. It is ever to be 
regretted that there was no intellifyent Machaon to be found in 
the camp before Naples ; such a one would undoubtedly have 
left us some pithy observations on the combination and affinity 
of petechial fever and bubo plague. 

Sect. 2. — Trousse-Galant in France. — 1528, and the 
following years. 

Deeply as the irreparable loss of such an army was felt by the 
French, yet were they destined to suffer still greater misfortunes 
at home. The dark power which threatened all Europe regarded 
neither distance nor limits. It seized on the French nation in 
their own country, whilst their military youth were destroyed 
before Naples, The cold spring and wet summer of 1528 destroy- 
ed the growing corn,^ and a famine was thus produced through- 
out France, even more grievous, on account of its duration, than 
the period of scarcity in the time of Louis the Xlth,- for the 
failure of the harvest continued for five years in succession, 
during which all order of the seasons seemed to have ceased. A 
damp summer heat prevailed in autumn and winter, a frost of a 
single day onl}^ occasionally intervening. The summer, on the 
other hand, was cloudy, damp, and ungenial. The length of the 
days alone distinguished one month from another. It appears 
plainly from detached accounts how much the usual course of 
vegetation was disturbed. Scarcely had the fruit trees shed their 
leaves in the autumn when they began to bud again, and to bear 
fruitless blossoms. No returns rewarded the toil of the husband- 
man, and the longed-for harvest again and again deceived the 
hopes of the people. Thus, even during the first of these calami- 
tous years, the distress became general, and the increasing indi- 
gence was no longer to be checked by human aid. Bands of 
beggars wandered over the country in lamentable procession. 
The bonds of civil order became more and more relaxed, and 
people soon had to fear not only robbery and plunder on the 
part of these unfortunate beings, but the contagion of a pestilence, 
the offspring of their distress, which followed in their train. 

This disease was a new production of the French soil, and 
when it sj^read generally throughout the country, was the more 

prevailed two diseases, typhus and diarrhoea, altogether distinct from one another. See 

' Schwelin, p. 143. 2 gee page 174. 


sensibly felt, as it especially carried off young and' robust men ; 
on which account it was designated by the very significant name 
of Trousse-Galant.^ It consisted of a highly inflammatory fever, 
which destroyed its victims in a very short time, even within the 
space of a few hours ; or if they escaped with their lives, de- 
prived them, of their hair and nails, and from a long-continued 
disinclination for all animal food, left behind it, as sequeloe, a 
protracted debility and diseases which endangered the recovery 
of the sick, whose constitutions were already so much shaken. 
Hence it appears that this fever was combined with a great decom- 
position of the fluids, and a very morbid condition of the functions 
of the bowels, not to mention the efifects produced by continued 
hunger, which contemporaries paint in the most dreadful colours. 

The stock of provisions was already so far consumed in the 
first year that people made bread of acorns, and sought with 
avidity all kinds of harmless roots, merely to appease hunger. 
"These miserable sufierers wandered about, houseless and more 
like corpses than living beings, and finally, failing even to excite 
commiseration, perished on dunghills or in out-houses. The 
larger towns shut their gates against them, and the various char- 
itable institutions proved, of necessity, insufllcient to afibrd relief 
in this frightful extremity ! It was the lot of very few to obtain 
the tender care and attendance of the Sisters of Charity. In 
most of those affected their livid swollen countenances, and the 
dropsical swelling of their limbs, betrayed the sickly condition in 
which they dragged on their languishing existence. Every one 
fled from these pestiferous spectres, for they were saturated with 
the poison of this deadly disease, and the remark was no doubt 
made a thousand times over, that this poison might be convej^'ed 
to persons in health without affecting the carrier, since want and 
ill health occasionally afford a miserable protection against dis- 
ease of this kind.^ 

The necessary data for furnishing a complete account of the 
Trousse-galant of 1528 do not exist, for physicians passed over 
this epidemic with the same coolness and indifference which un- 
fortunately they may be justly accused of having shovv^n with 
respect to other important phenomena. But it returned once 
again in 1545 46, appearing in Savoy and over a great part of 
France ; and we possess from Pare,^ and from Sander, a Flemish 

* Troussei", in an obsolete sense, signifies to cause speedy death. 
' Mezeray, T. II. p. 965, where the best notices of it are to be found. 
^ His account applies to the town of Puy in the Auvergne, where he seems himself 
to have seen the disease. Li^T. XXII. c. 5. p. 823. 


physician/ thougli still a defective, yet a more satisfactory, de- 
scription of its symptoms on this occasion. Its course was, as 
before, very rapid, so that it destroyed the patient in two or three 
days ; again it attacked the strong rather than the weak, as if in 
justification of its old name, and those who recovered remained 
for a long time distinguishable by the loss of their hair and their 
wretched appearance. Patients felt at the commencement an 
insufferable weight in the body, with extremely violent headache, 
which soon deprived them of all consciousness, and passed into a 
profound stupor, even the sphincter muscles losing their power. 
In other cases a continued state of sleeplessness was followed by 
feverish delirium, so violent that it was necessary to have recourse 
to means of restraint. Such opposite states are usual in all ty- 
phous fevers. Sander expressl}'- mentions that in most of those 
affected, eruptions made their appearance. He does not, however, 
state their nature or describe the course and crisis of the disease, 
otherwise than that it terminated about the fourth or the eleventh 
day. Even the eruptions that did appear, which w^ere probably 
petechise, and perhaps also (rother friesel) red miliary vesicles, 
came at an indefinite period ; either at the commencement, when 
they afforded an unfavourable ^Drognosis, or later, when they be- 
tokened a favourable crisis. Thread-worms, in great numbers, 
were evacuated alive under great torment, and generally increas- 
ed the sufferings of the patient. The disease was scarcely less 
contagious than plague, and with respect to its treatment, bleed- 
ing, copious and even ad deliquium, was decidedly successful, 
which, coupled with the attacks on the head just described,^ leads 
to the conclusion that there existed a fulness of blood and an in- 
flammatory state of circulation, together, perhaps, with inflam- 
mation of the brain. "We must not omit to observe that, durino' 
the pestilence of 1546, the bubo plague made its appearance here 
and there, especially in the Netherlands;^ and in the following 
year, broke out and spread to a greater extent in France,^ whence 
it seems to follow, with respect to the malady of which we are now 
treating, that its nature resembled the petechial fever, since that 
disease usually precedes the occurrence of pestilences.'^ 

1 Forest. L. YI. obs. 7. p. 156. Sander writes from numerous observations ■which 
he made in and about Cambray. 

2 Saui'ages, T. I. p. 487, hence calls the Trousse-galant " Cephalitis verminosa," 
although neither inflammation of the brain nor worms existed in all cases, and takes 
his description from Sander, as again Ozanam has taken it from Sauvages, T. III. ^. 27- 

3 Forest, p. 1 57. Schol. * Pare, loc. cit. 

^ So small-pox and measles, it is well known, are the forerunners of plague. 


The assertion of historians, that in 1528, and the following 
3^ears, France lost a fourth part of her inhabitants by famine and 
pestilence, seems, according to our representation, not to be by 
any means exaggerated. The consequences, as regarded the future 
destinies of that country, were likewise very important. For 
Francis the 1st saw that no new sacrifices could be borne by his 
people, who were already so sorely afflicted ; and therefore aban- 
doned his schemes of greatness and foreign power, consenting, on 
the 5th of August, 1529, to the disadvantageous treaty of 

Seci\ 3. — Sweating Sickness in England, 1528. 

Whoever, following the above facts, will represent to himself 
the state of Europe in 1528, will readily believe that a poisonous 
atmosphere enveloped this quarter of the globe, and continually 
brought destruction and death over its nations. E.uiii broke in 
upon them in a thousand forms, destroying their bodies and be- 
nighting their minds, and if to this we add the discord and the 
deadly party hatred which at that time prevailed in the world, it 
seems as if every circumstance that could affect mankind was im- 
plicated in this gigantic conflict, which threatened in its fatal 
result to annihilate all traces of the times that were past. 

A heavier affliction than has yet been described was in store for 
England : for in the latter end of May, the Sweating Fever broke 
out there in the midst of the most populous part of the capital, 
spreading rapidly over the whole kingdom ; and fourteen months 
later, brought a scene of horror upon all the nations of northern 
Europe, scarcely equalled during any other epidemic. It appeared 
at once with the same intensity as it had shown eleven j'^ears be- 
fore, was ushered in by no previous indications, and between health 
and death there lay but a brief term of five or six hours. Public 
business was postponed : the courts were closed, and four weeks 
after the pestilence broke out, the festival of St. John^ was stopped, 
to the great sorrow of the people, who certainly would not have 
dispensed with its celebration had they recovered from the con- 
sternation arising from the great mortality. The king's court was 
again deserted, and to the various passions and mental emotions 
which had been clashing there since the year 1517, as, for instance, 
those arising from the theological zeal which had been excited 
by Henry Vlllth's defence of the faith, was added once more the 

' Fabian, p. 699. 


old alarm and distress, which seemed to be justified by the death 
of some favoured courtiers ; particularly of two chamberlains,^ and 
of Sir Francis Poynes, who had just returned from an embassy to 
Spain. The king left London immediately, and endeavoured to 
avoid the epidemic by continually travelling, until at last he grew 
tired of so* unsettled a life, and determined to await his destiny at 
Tytynhangar. Here, with his first wife and a few confidants, he 
resided quietly, apart from the world, surrounded by fires for the 
purification of the air, and guarded by the precautions of his 
physician, who had the satisfaction to find that the pestilence kept 
aloof from this lonely residence.^ 

Plow many lives were lost in this, which some historians have 
called the great mortality, can be estimated only by the facts which 
have been stated, and which betoken an uncommonly violent de- 
gree of agitation in men's minds. Accurate data are altogether 
wanting, j'et it is quite evident that the whole English nation, 
from the monarch to the meanest peasant, was impressed with a 
feeling of alarm at the uncertainty of life, to which neither the 
rude state of society, nor a constant familiarity with the efiects 
of laws written in blood,^ had blunted their sensibility. Such a 
state docs not exist without very numerous cases of mortality 
which bring the danger home to every individual, so that it is to 
be presumed that the churchyards were everywhere abundantly 
filled. Nor did this destructive epidemic come alone. Provisions 
were scarce and dear, and whilst hundreds of thousands lay 
stretched upon the bed of death, many perished with hunger/ and 
the same scenes would have been experienced as in France, had 
not the corn trade afibrded some relief.* 

As soon as the occurrences of this unfortunate year could be 
more closely surveyed, a conviction was at once felt, that it was one 
and the same general cause of disease ivhich called forth the poison- 
ous pestilence in the French camp before Naples, the putrid fever 
among the youth in France, and the sweating sichiess in England, 
and that the varying nature of these diseases depended only on the 
conditions of the soil and the qualities of the atmosphere in the 

^ Sir William Cotnpton and William Carew, besides many other distinguished per- 
sons who are not named. 

- Grafton, p. 412, the principal passage. Compare IloUnshed, p. 735. Baker, p. 
293. Hall, p. 750. Herbert of Cherbury, p. 215. 

3 During Henry the Eighth's reign (1509 to 1547) 72,000 malefactors were, accord- 
ing to Harrison, executed for theft and robbery, making nearly 2000 for each year. 
Hume, T. IV. p. 275. 

^ Stow, p. 885. 5 pabian, loc. cit. 


countries loliich loere visited} If, in opposition to these notions, a 
narrow view of human life in the aggregate should raise a doubt, 
this would be strikingly refuted by the wonderful coincidence, in 
point of time, of all these phenomena, occurring in such various 
parts of Europe ; for while the French armj^, after an exposure 
of four weeks to the miseries and poisonous vapours of its camp 
before Naples, perceived the first forebodings of its destruction, 
the great famine with the Trousse-galant in its train was in full 
advance on the other side the Alps, and almost on the same daj^ 
the Sweating Sickness broke out upon the Thames. 

Sect. 4. — Natural Occurrences. — Prognostics. 

The chronicles of all the nations of Europe are full of remark- 
able notices respecting the commotions of nature in these parti- 
cular years, which were so utterly hostile to the animal and 
vegetable kingdoms. In England the period of distress was al- 
ready approaching ; towards the end of the year 1527. Through- 
out the whole winter (November and December, 1527, and January, 
1528)> heavy rains deluged the country, the rivers overflowed their 
banks, and the winter seed was thus rotted. The weather then 
remained dry until April ; but scarcely was the summer seed 
sown, when the rain again set in, and continued day and night for 
full eight weeks, so that the last hope of a harvest was now de- 
stroyed,^ and the soaked earth, in the thick mists that arose from 
its surface, hatched the well-known demon of the Sweating Dis- 
ease. It was now of no avail that the torrents of rain ceased, for the 
softened soil gave the pestilence constant nourishment, and the 
damp warmth which, alternating with unseasonable cold, remained 
prevalent during the following years all over Europe, rendered 
men's bodies more and more susceptible to severe diseases. 

The historians of that time were too much occupied with the 
intricate affairs of the court and of the church to devote any at- 
tention to nature, and on this account they have left us no satis- 
factory information of the state of the weather and the course of 
the seasons of those years in England, yet there is no reason to 
suppose that they were essentially different from those of the rest 
of Europe. This may be proved by the following collection of 
important natural occurrences, when taken in conjunction with 
the circumstances already stated respecting France and Italy. 

1 ■ — -" it seeming to be but the same contagion of the aire, varied according to the 
clime." Herbert of Cherbury, loc. cit. ~ Stow, loc. cit. 


In Upper Italy such, considerable floods occurred in all the 
river districts, in the year 1527, that the astrologers announced a 
new Deluge. There was a repetition of them to an equal extent, 
and with equal damage, in the following year, so that it may liave 
been concluded, not without some ground, that there was an ac- 
cumulation of snow on the highest mountain ranges of Europe. 
On the third of July, 1529, there followed a violent earthquake in 
Upper Italy, and immediately afterwards a blood-rain, as it was 
called, in Cremona.^ 

In October, 1530, the Tiber rose so much above its banks that 
in Rome and its neighbourhood about 12,000 people were drowned. 
A month later, in the Netherlands, the sea broke through the 
dykes, and Holland, Zealand, and Brabant sufiered very consider- 
ably from the overflow of the waters, which again took place two 
years afterwards.- 

In 1528 there appeared in the March of Brandenburg, during 
the prevalence of a south-east wind and a great drought^ (the rains 
did not commence in Germany before 1529), swarms of locusts,^ as 
if tbis prognostic too of great epidemics was not to be wanting. 
Of fiery meteors, which also frequently appeared in the following 
years, and in the aggregate plainly indicated an unusual condition 
of the atmosphere, much notice, after the manner of the times, is 
occasionally taken. ^ Particular attention was excited by a long 
fiery train which was seen on the 7th of January, 1529, at seven 
o'clock in the morning, throughout INIecklenburg and Poraerania.^ 
Another fiery sign (chasma) was seen in the March on the 9th of 
January, at ten o'clock at night/ as likewise similar atmospherical 
phenomena in other localities. 

Comets appeared in the course of this year in unusual number.^ 
The first on the lltli of August, 1527, before daj^break; it was 
seen throughout Europe, and it has often been confounded by more 
recent writers with an atmospherical phenomenon resembling a 
comet which appeared on the 11th of October.^ The second was 
seen in July and August, 1529, in' Germany, France, and Italy. 

1 Campo, pp. 150, 151. - Grafton, p. 431. Wagenaar,\o\. II. p. 516. 

3 Haftitz, p. 130. ^ Anuales Berolino-Marcliici (no numbers to the pages). 

* Magnus Jlimdl, fol. 4. b., and many others. 

•5 Bonn, p. 143. A girl in Liibeck died of fright at this meteor. 

' Haftitz, p. 131. Angelus, p. 317. 

"^ It must not be thought that the author, because he has brought forward these no- 
tices, has any pre-forraed opinions whatever respecting the import of these heavenly 
bodies. The historian cannot pass over contemporaneous occurrences, whatever may be 
the conclusion which the limited extent of our knowledge enables us to draw from them. 

3 ringnJ, T. I. p. 485. Sjmngenberg, M. Chr. fol. 410. a. 


Four other comets are also said to have made their appearance this 
year at the same time ; but it is probable that these were only- 
fiery meteors of an unknown kind.' The third was in 1531, and 
was visible in Europe from the 1st of August till the 3rd of Sep- 
tember. This was the great comet of H alley, which returned in 
the year 1835.^ The fourth was in 1532, visible from the 2nd of 
October to the 8th of November; it appeared again in 1661.^ 
Lastly, the fifth, in 1533, seen from the middle of June till 

Contemporaries agree remarkably in their accounts of the in- 
sufferable state of the weather in the eventful year 1529. The 
winter was particularly mild, and the vegetation was far too early, 
so that all the world was rejoicing at the mildness and beauty of 
the spring. The people wore violets, at Erfurt, on St. Matthew's 
day (the 24th of February), little expecting that this friendly 
omen was to precede so severe a calamity.^ Throughout the 
spring and summer wet weather continued to prevail. Constant 
torrents of rain overflowed the fields, the rivers passed their 
banks ; all hopes of the cultivation were entirely frustrated/ and 
misery and famine spread in all directions. A heavy rain of four 
days' continuance, which took place in the south of Germany in 
the middle of June, and was called the St. Vitus's Torrent, is still 
remembered in modern times as an unheard-of event. Whole dis- 
tricts of country were completely laid under water, and many 
pei'sons perished who had not time to save their lives.'^ A similar, 
very widely-extended, and perhaps universal, storm again occur- 
red on the 10th of August, and occasioned great floods, especially 
in Thuringia and Saxony.* Upon the whole, the sun rarely 
broke through the heavy dark clouds. The latter part of the 
summer and the whole of the autumn, with the exception of a 
series of hot days which commenced the 24th of August,^ remain- 

* Pingre, p. 486. Angelas, p. 318. Crusius, Yol. II. p. 223. 

- Pingre, p. 487. Campo, p. 154. Angelus, p. 320, and numerous other accounts. It 
performs its revolution in 76 years, and was observed in 1456, 1531, 1607, 1682, and 

3 Pingre, p. 491. Spangenberg, M. Ghr. fol. 433. b. 

* Pi7igre, p. 496. Angelus, p. 322. Spangenberg, M. Chr. fol. 435. a. 

^ Erfui't Chronicle. Spangenberg, who has availed himself frequently of this 
chronicle, makes use of the same words, M. Chr. fol. 431. b. 

6 They called the sour wine of this year den Wiedertdufer-Wein ; the Anabaptist 
wine. Schweliti, p. 144. 

■^ Crusius, Vol. TI. p. 323. St. Titus's day is on the 15tli of June. On the river 
Neckar, at Heidelberg, they took out a child which had floated down the stream in its 
cradle unharmed for a distance of six (German) miles. Franck, fol. 252. b. 

* Spangenberg, M. Chr. fol. 432. a. ^ Klemzen, p. 254. 



ed gloomy, cold, and wet. People fancied tliey were breathing 
the foggy air of Britain.' 

We ought not to omit here to notice that in the north of Ger- 
many, and especially in the March of Brandenburg, eating fish, 
which were caught in great abundance, was generally esteemed 
detrimental. Malignant and contagious diseases were said to 
have been traced to this cause, and it was a matter of surprise 
that the only food which nature bounteously bestowed was so de- 
cidedly injurious.^ It might be difficult now to discover the cause 
of this phenomenon, of which we possess only isolated notices, 
yet, passing over all other conjectures, it is quite credible either 
that an actual fish poison was developed,^ or, if this notion be re- 
jected, that a disordered condition of life, such as must be sup- 
posed to have existed in a great famine, rendered fish prejudicial 
to health, in the same way as sometimes occurs after protracted 
intermittent fevers, when the functions of the bowels are disturb- 
ed in a manner peculiar to this disease. 

But it was not the inhabitants of the water alone which were 
affected by hidden causes of excitement in collective organic life ; 
the fowls of the air likewise sickened, who, in their delicate and 
irritable organs of respiration, feel the injurious influence of the 
atmosphere much earlier and more sensitively than any of the 
unfeathered tribes, and have often been the harbingers of great 
danger, ere man was aware of its approach. In the neighbour- 
hood of Freyburg in the Breisgau, dead birds were found scatter- 
ed under the trees, with boils as large as peas under their wings, 
which indicated among them a disease, that in all probability 
extended far beyond the southern districts of the Rhine.* 

- The fiimine in Germany, during this year, is described by re- 
spectable authorities in a tone of deep sympathy. Swabia, Lorraine, 
Alsace, and the other southern countries bordering on the Rhine, 
were especially visited, so that misery there reached the same 
frightful height as in France. The poor emigrated and roved 
over the country, solely to prolong their wretched existence. 
Above a thousand of these half-starved mendicants came to Stras- 
burg out of Swabia. They obtained shelter in a monastery, and 

1 Schwelin, p. 144. Newenar, fol. 69. a. "fecit tamcn hiiius anni, .ac fortasse ctiam 
pr;Bcedentiuni intemperies, flurainum cxuudationes, frigora cum Immiditatc perpetuo 
coniuncta, tit jam in Germania Britaiuiicus quidam a'tr suscitatus videri jjossit." 
Similar accoimts are met witli in almost all the chronicles. 

- Leuthinger, p. 90. see " Scriptorum," etc. 

3 Compare Autenrieth's excellent work on this subject. 

* Schiller, sect. I. cap. 2. fol. 3. b. 


attempts were made to revive them, yet many were unable to 
bear the food that was jolaced before them. Attention and 
nourishment did but hasten their death. Another bod}^ of more 
than eight hundred came in the autumn from Lorraine. These 
unfortimate people were kept in the city, and fed during the 
whole winter/ yet it is easy to conceive that this benevolence, 
which was no doubt likewise exercised in other cities,^ — for when 
was humanity ever found wanting in Germany ? — could only oc- 
casionally alleviate this deeply-rooted calamity. In the Venetian 
territories, many hundreds are said to have perished with hunger, 
and a like distress probably prevailed all over Upper Italy. 

In the north of Germany, including the extensive sandy plains, 
on which wet weather is not so injurious in its effect as on a heavy 
clayey soil, the state of the country was upon the whole more 
tolerable f yet, independently of the innumerable evils to which 
a scarcity gives rise, suicide loas tnore frequent,^ which was cer- 
tainly a rarity in the sixteenth century, and only explicable by 
supposing that the powers of the mind became exhausted by the 
many and various passions, which in every individual locality 
excited a spirit of hatred and party feeling. The consequence of 
such a state of turmoil is a cold disgust of life, which finds, in 
the first adverse event that may occur, a pretext for self-destruc- 
tion, that want alone would seldom if ever occasion : for man, if 
his spirit be unbroken, runs the chance of starvation in times of 
famine, and trusts to the faintest gleam of hope, rather than, of 
his own accord, abandon the enjoyment of life. 

It is no less in point here to notice a kind of faint lassitude, 
which, to the great astonishment of the people, was felt, especial- 
ly in Pomerania, in June and July,'"' up to the very period when 
the Sweating Sickness broke out. In the midst of their work, and 
without any conceivable cause, people became palsied in their 
hands and feet, so that even if their lives had depended upon it, 
they were incapable of the slightest exertion.^ The treatment 
which was found successful, was to cover the patients warmly, and 
to supply them with nourishing food, of which they ate plenti- 

' Franck, fol. 243. b. 

2 Basle among others was particularly distinguished. Steitler, part II. p. 34. 

3 Spangenberg, loc. cit. * Leuthinger, p. 89. 

* From Whitsuntide till towards St. James's day, the '25th of July. Klemzen, 
p. 254. 

6 Two masters of vessels, who had quitted the helm from a sudden attack of this 
kind, were in danger of grounding upon the Mole. Their situation was, however, 
noticed, and they were saved. Klemzen. 

15 * 


fully, and thus recovered again in three or four days. Pheno- 
mena of this kind, which in the present instance evidently 
depended on atmospherical influence, are but the extreme grada- 
tions of a generally morbid dulness of vital feeling, which might 
easily pass into an actual disgust of life, such as would lead to 

The following years were by no means all marked by a com- 
plete failure in produce. The year 1530 was, on the contrary, 
plentiful, there being only some partial failures, as, for example, 
that which arose from a great flood in the district of the Saal, 
which occurred in the midst of the harvest tinie.^ A very cold 
spring and a wet cold summer followed in 1531, with only oc- 
casional fine days ; yet the ground was not altogether unpro- 
ductive, and the great distress which would otherwise have been 
felt in Thuringia and Saxony, was checked b}" the establishment 
of granaries, so that the people were not obliged, as they often 
were in Swabia, to mow the green corn that they might dry the 
ears in ovens, and support life upon the yet unripe grain. 

The years 1532 and 1533 were again very sterile, as also 
1534, in consequence of the great heat and dryness of the summer. 
Finally, in the year 1535, the regular change of the seasons, and 
with it a prosperous state of cultivation, seemed to be restored, 
and the scarcity ceased.- The reports from different localities in 
Germany vary much, but the scarcity prevailed for full seven 
years ^ (from 1528 to 1534), and since its causes were not dis- 
coverable, because it was only seen by each observer in his own 
narrow circle, the old German adage was often called to mind : 
*' If there is to be a scarcity, it is of no avail even should all the 
mountains be made of flour." ^ 

Sect. 5. — Sweating Sickness ln" Germany, 1529. 

TTiese facts are sufficient for a preliminary sketch of the back- 
ground on which moved the spectre of England, to which we 
now return. How long the sweating sickness may have raged 
there after Henry the Ylllth quitted his secluded place of refuge 
in. order to return to his capital, no one has left any written ac- 
count to show. That it spread very rapidly over the whole king- 

' Spangenberg^ M. Chr. fol. 432. a. 
- Ibid. fol. 433. a. 435. b. SchtreZin, pp. 149. 150. 

^ A CliromcleT of the Marelies eren assures us tliat it lasted imtil 1546. Aimales 
Berol. Marcliic : but the otlier contemporarT writers contradict this. 
* Spangenberg^ fol. 432. a. 


dom is decidedly to be presumed, and might probably still be 
easily ascertainable from the written records of different places. 
The notion that it did not rage violently in any town more than 
a few weeks, is justified by corresponding phenomena of more re- 
cent occurrence, yet no doubt it continued to exist among the 
people, though in a mitigated degree, till the mild winter season . 
But there are not even the slightest data by which it can be made 
out that it was still in England during the summer of 1529. As 
an epidemic it certainly existed no longer, yet on a consideration 
of the state of the air in that year, it is not to be denied that 
isolated cases of Sweating Fever may have appeared ; for in pesti- 
lences of this kind, provided their original causes continue, there 
always occur some straggling cases. ^ The Sweating Sickness did 
not advance westward to Ireland, nor did it pass the Scottish 
border ; the historians, who would certainly have recorded so 
calamitous an event, are entirely silent respecting such an occur- 
rence. The tragedy was, however, destined to be enacted else- 
where ; other nations were to play their part in it. 

Hamburgh was the first place on the continent in which the 
Sweating Sickness broke out. Men's minds were still in great 
excitement there in consequence of the events of the few preced- 
ing months. The Protestants had, after long and stormy contests, 
at length vanquished the Papists. Under the wise direction of 
Bugenhagcn the great work of Reformation was just completed. 
The monasteries were abolished, the monks dismissed, schools 
were established, and peace again returned with the enjoyment of 
ecclesiastical freedom. Just at this moment ^ the dreaded pesti- 
lence, of which wonderful accounts had been so long and so often 
heard, unexpectedly made its appearance. It immediately ex- 
cited, as it had ever done in England, general dismay, and before 
any instructions as to its treatment could be obtained, either from 
the English or from Germans who had been in England, it de- 
stroyed daily from forty to sixty, and altogether, within the space 
of twenty-two days,^ about 1100 inhabitants, for such was the 
number of coffins which were at this time manufactured by the 
undertakers. The duration of the great mortality, for thus we 

' Newenar indeed maintains that the Sweating Fever used to break out in England 
every year, fol. 68. b., but such general and unsupported assertions coming from 
foreigners (the Graf Hermann von Neioenar was provost of Cologne) are wholly un- 
worthy of credence. 

2 About the 2oth of July. 

^ From St. James's day, the 2.5th of July, until the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin 
llary on the loth of August. Staphorst. 


would designate the more violent raging of this pestilence, was, 
however, much shorter, and may be roughly estimated at about 
nine days, for from the fragment of a letter received from Ham- 
burgh, which was dispatched to Wittenberg on the 8th of August, 
by a person who was at that time burgomaster, it appears that, 
for some days past, no one had died of the Sweating Fever, ex- 
cepting one or two drunkards, and that the citizens were then be- 
ginning to take breath again. We may thus jud^^e, from the 
unauthenticated account here mentioned, that the disease lasted 
about a fortnight longei', and that the loss of lives amounted to 2000. 
At all events, however, the pestilence manifested itself on the 
continent with the same malignity which was peculiar to it from 
the first, and if the assertion made at a distance respecting the 
mortality in Hamburgh were overcharged,^ yet there certainly 
existed sufficient foundation for exaggerations of this sort, wliich 
are never wanting in times of such great danger. The historians 
of this, even at that time, powerful and civilized commercial town, 
have on the whole said but little regarding this important event 
— a circumstance easily explicable from the constant occupation 
of men's minds in religious affairs, and from the well-known short 
visitation of the epidemic, which, like a transient meteor, needed 
quick and cautious observation if any valuable information re- 
specting the occurrence was to be transmitted to posterity. Some 
particulars of its first origin have, however, been preserved amid 
a mass of general assertions which convey no information. Thus 
it appears that the Sweating Sickness did not show itself in the 
town until a Captain Hermann Evers, just about the time men- 
tioned (the 25th of July), returned from England, bringing on 
board with him a number of young people (probably travellers as 
well as sailors), of whom at least twelve died of this disease with- 
in two days.^ According to another account, those who died 

1 It appears, for instance, somewhere in the second volume of Leibnitz, Scriptorcs 
rerum Brunsviccnsium, that 8000 people had died of the Sweating Fever in Hamburgh. 
An unknown Chronicler in Staphorst, Part II. vol. I. p. 85, states 2000. 

- " Moreover in the year 1529, about St. James's day, Almighty God sent a terrible 
disease upon the city of Hamburgh; it was the Sweating Sickness, which showed itself 
in a different manner, and began when Captain Hermann Evers came from England on 
St. James's day with many young companions, of whom, in the course of two days, 
twelve died of this disease, which was unkno-\vn as well in Hamburgh as in other 
countries, so that the oldest person did not recollect to have seen a similar disease." 
An unknown eye-witness, quoted in Sta2)horst, Part II. Yol. I. p. 83. Another person 
expresses himself to the same effect, p. 85. " The disease had its origin in England, 
for the people were there attacked in the street when they came on shore, and those 
who came in contact with them, many of whom were of the lower class, took it." 


were not taken ill in England, but on the voyage, and the pesti- 
lence broke out after the rest of the crew had disembarked. On 
this point we have further a most respectable testimony to the 
fact, that in the night after the landing of Hermann Evers, four 
men died in Hamburgh of the Sweating Sickness.^ 

If we examine a little more closely these very valuable accounts, 
the credibility of which there is no reason to doubt, it must espe- 
cially be taken into account, that at this time the Sweating Sick- 
ness had ceased to exist as an epidemic in England for at least 
half a year, that its appearance in single cases, although not con- 
tradictory to general views, is nevertheless by no means borne 
out by proof from historical evidence, and that thus it is a gratui- 
tous and unsupported assumption that the return of Hermann 
Evers' crew was connected with any Sweating Sickness at all in 
England. If we consider, on the other hand, that the North Sea, 
even in ordinary years, is very foggy, so that, owing to the pre- 
valence of north-west winds, it precipitates very heavy rain clouds 
over Germany ; and if we bear in mind, that in the year 1529 it 
produced far heavier fogs than usual, we shall perceive in its waters 
the principal cause why the English Sweating Sickness was then 
developed in its greatest violence, and we may thence assume, 
with a greater degree of probability, that this pestilence broke 
out among the crew of Hermann Evers spontaneously, and with- 
out any connexion with England, in the same way, perhaps, as 
it did formerly on board Henry the Vllth's fleet. This supposi- 
tion is strengthened by the circumstance that the ships of those 
times were excessively filthy, and the kind of life spent on board 
them was, independently of the wretched provision, uncomfortable 
in the highest degree, nay, almost insupportable, so that even in 
short voyages, the scurvy, which was the dread of sailors in those 
days, was of very common occurrence. Finally, we still possess 
the most distinct accounts, that unusual occurrences took place in 
the North Seas. Thus durinj? Lent it was observed with astonish- 
ment at Stettin, that porpoises came in numbers up the frische 
Haff as far as the bridge, and that the Baltic cast on its shores 
many dead animals of this kind,^ so that we are fully justified in 

^Notices of uncertain date to be found in Adelung^ at p. 77. Steltzner, Part II. p. 219. 
In the abbrer. Hamb. Chron. p. 45, and elsewhere. 

1 "As soon as the ship arrived in Hamburgh people began to die throughout the city, 
and in the morning it was rumoured that four persons had died of it." From Reiniar 
A'oc^'s MS. Chron. of Liibeck. For the extract from it the author is indebted to the 
kindness of Professor Achermann of Liibeck. 

- Klemzen, p. 254. It was thought that the waters of the Baltic were poisoned. 


concluding that there existed at that time a more intense develop- 
ment than usual of morbific influences in the marine atmosphere. 

With respect, however, to the influence which the companions 
of Hermann Evers, impregnated as they were with the odour of 
the Sweating Sickness, had on the inhabitants of Hamburgh, it 
cannot be denied, that their intercourse with those inhabitants, in 
the filthy and narrow lanes of that commercial city, may have 
given an impulse to the eruption of the pestilence, so far as to 
make the already existing fuel more inflammable, or to furnish 
the first sparks for its ignition : yet it is equally undeniable that, 
under the existing circumstances, the epidemic Sweating Sick- 
ness would have broken out in Germany even without the pre- 
sence of Captain Evers, although it might, perhaps, have been 
some weeks later, and not have made its first appearance in 
Hamburgh, whose inhabitants, owing to the constant prevalence 
of the North Sea fog, were, to all appearance, already prepared 
for the first reception of this fatal disease. 

To determine to a day when epidemics which have been long 
in preparation have broken out, is, even for an observer who is 
present, exceedingly difficult, nay, sometimes, under the most 
favourable circumstances, impossible ; for there occur in these 
visitations, certain transitions into the epidemic form of dis- 
eases which are allied to it, as well as a gradual conversion into 
it of morbid phenomena, which have usually begun some time 
before. Unless we are greatly mistaken, such was the case in 
the pestilence of which we are now treating ; although it must be 
confessed, that we can obtain no precise information on this 
point from the physicians of those times. The following state- 
ments, for the absolute precision of which we cannot pledge our- 
selves after a lapse of 300 years, must therefore be judged ac- 
cording to this general experience ; and though singly they may 
prove little, yet taken all together, they are capable of demonstrat- 
ing the peculiar and almost wonderful manner in which the 
Sweating Fever spread over Germany. 

In Liibeck, the next city in the Baltic, the Sweating Sickness 
appeared about the same time ; for so early as the Friday before 
St. Peter in rincuUs (30th of July), it was known, that on the 
preceding night a woman had died of it.' On the following days 
cases of death fearfully increased, and the disorder soon raged so 
violently, that people were again reminded of the Black Death 

1 Reimar Kock's Chronicle of Liibeck. 


of 1349. The inhabitants died without number, as well in the 
city as in the environs, and the consternation was equal to that 
felt in Hamburgh.^ In general, as was everywhere the case, 
robust young people of the better classes were affected, while on 
the other hand, children and poor people living in cellars and 
garrets almost all of them escaped.^ 

Now one might, either on the supposition of a progressive 
alteration in the atmosphere, such as occurs in the influenza, or 
on that of a communication of the disease from man to man, 
which, however, cannot be considered as a principal cause of this 
epidemic, have expected a gradual extension of the Sweating 
Sickness from Hamburgh and Llibeck to the surrounding country. 
This did not, however, in fact take place ; for the disease next 
broke out at Twickau, at the foot of the Erzgebirge, distant 
from Hamburgh fifty German miles, and without having pre- 
viously visited the rich commercial city of Leipzig. By the 14th 
of August, nineteen persons who had died of it were buried at 
Twickau; and on one of the following nights above a hundred^ 
sickened, whence it is to be deduced that the pestilence was 
severe at that place. 

Possibly the great storm on the 10th of August may have 
given an impulse to the development of this very remarkable 
epidemic ; for a highly electrical state of the atmosphere in- 
creases the susceptibility for diseases. It is likewise not to be 
overlooked, that on the 24th of August, while the sky was over- 
cast there came on an insufferable heat,^ which must have de- 
bilitated the body after such long-continued cold wet weather. 
At all events, in the beginning of September, we find that the 
Sweating Fever broke out at the same time at Stettin, Dantzig, 
and other Prussian cities ; at Augsburg, far to the south on the 
other side of the Danube, at Cologne on the Rhine, at Strasbourg, 
at Frankfort on the Maine, at Marburg^ at Gottingen, and at 
Hanover.^ The position of these cities gives an impressive 
notion of the extent of country of which the English Sweating 
Sickness took possession, as it were by a magic stroke. It was 
like a violent conflagration, which spread in all directions ; the 
flames, however, did not issue from one focus, but rose up every- 

- " In the year 1529, this violent disease passed in a very short time all over Ger- 
many, and in Liibeck many of its most distinguished citizens died on the vigil of St. 
Peter in Vinculis." Regkman, p. 135. Compare Kirchring, p. 143. Bomi, p. 144. 

~ Reimar Koch. ^ Schmidt^ p. 307. 

* See above, p. 225 ; and Klemzen, p. 254. 

5 Euric. Cordus. ^ Grimer, It. p. 23. 


where, as if self-ignited ; and whilst all this occurred in Germany 
and Prussia, the inhabitants of the other northern countries, 
Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, perhaps also Lithuania, Poland, 
and Russia, were likewise visited by this violent disease. 

The malady appeared in Stettin on the 31st of August, among 
the servants of the Duke.^ On the 1st of September, the 
Duchess herself sickened, in common with many people about 
the court, and burgesses in the city. A few days afterwards 
several thousands were affected by the disease, so that there was 
not a street from which some corpses were not daily carried out. 
This dreadful period of terror, however, did not last much longer 
than a week, for about the 8th of September the pestilence abated 
in its violence, so as no longer to be regarded with terror ; and 
after this time only a few isolated cases occurred.^ 

On the same day, namely, the 1st of September, the disease 
appeared in Dantzig, fifty German miles further to the eastward, 
and was here also so destructive that it carried off in a short 
time 3000 inhabitants,^ some say even 6000 — but this seems 
certainly too high an estimate for Dantzig, and probably includes 
the greater part of Prussia. If we were to give credence to an 
anonymous reporter,"* this plague abated in jive days, and reliev- 
ed the inhabitants from the mortal anxiety which, until they re- 
covered their senses, led them everywhere to commit acts of in- 
justice and injury to avert the danger. 

In Augsburg w^e find the Sweating Sickness on the 6th of 
September. It lasted there also only six dat/s, affected about 
1500 of the inhabitants, and destroyed more than half that 
number, or, as it is said, about 800.' 

At Cologne it appeared precisely at the same time, as we learn 
from the expressions of the Count von Newenar, a prelate of that 
place, who finished his account of this disorder on the 7th of Sep- 
tember.'' At Strasburg it broke out some ten or twelve days 
earlier, namely, on the 24th of August. In this place about 
3000 people sickened in one week, but very few of them died.^ 
At Frankfort on the Maine they were holding the autumn fair 
(which began on the 7th of September) just at the time when 

^ Namely, on the Tuesday after the Beheading of John the Baptist (•29th Aug.), which 
fell on a Sunday, for S. ^l^gidius was on the AVednesday. The dates are given through- 
out according to Pilgrim's Calcndariura chronologicum. 

2 Kkmzen, p. 255. ^ Curicke, p. 271. 

* Kronica der Preussen, fol. 191. b. 

5 Steftler, II. p. 33. 6 In Graforol. fol. 74. h. 

" Gruner, It. p. 25, according to MS. Chronicles. 


the Sweating Sickness prevailed/ whence arose the opinion, 
which has been broached again in more modern times,^ that the 
traders on their return carried the disease thence throughout the 
whole of Germany, and that in the intercourse by means of this 
fair, the main cause of the spread of the epidemic was to be found. 
After the facts which have been brought forward, such a narrow 
view needs no refutation. The Sweating Sickness was fleeter 
than the conveyances of goods and people, which at that time 
made their M^ay along the pathless and unbeaten roads ; for "no 
sooner did a rumour of the approach of the disease reach any 
place than the disease itself accompanied it." ^ 

Between the boundaries which have been indicated, only a few 
isolated towns and villages escaped, and there are probably 
few of the chronicles of that age, so prolific of great events, in 
which the dreadful scourge of the year 1529 is not expressly 
mentioned ; yet the sweating fever, like other great epidemics, 
spread, doubtless, very unequally, and it is ascertained that the 
further south it extended, the milder it was upon the whole ; 
and also that all those places where it broke out late sufifered be- 
yond comparison less than those which were visited early in Sep- 
tember and in the latter part of August ; for not to lay much 
stress on the sultry heat from the 24th of August, which proba- 
bly did not last long, the chief caiise of its great malignity at 
first was the violent method resorted to in the treatment of the 
sick, the inapplicability of which was fortunately soon perceived. 
Only one citizen was affected with the Sweating Sickness in Mar- 
burg, and even he recovered,'* whilst at Leipzig the pestilence 
either never broke out at all or very much later, perhaps in Octo- 
ber or November ; for the pnyslv^ians of that place gave it clearly 
to be understood in their pamphlets, that they knew nothing of 
the disease from their own observations,^ and no sooner did the 
report get abroad that the dreaded enemy had not penetrated 
within the walls of this commercial city, than crowds of fugitives 
came thither from far and near in order to seek protection and 
security, although the place in itself was by no means fitted for a 
place of refuge, for the swampy atmosphere which rose from the 

« Franch, fol. 253. a. 

^ By Joseph Franck, in the latest edition of his Praxeos MediciE Universfe Prsecepta. 
Compare Griiner, It. p. 28. 

3 Klemzen, p. 254. 

* This appears from a letter of Etcricius Cordus to the Hessian private secretarj', 
Jo/i. Eau von Nordeck, at the end of the 2nd edition of his Rec/imen, 

^ Magntis Uundt closed his on the 7th October. 


city ditches begot, even in those days, in the narrow and dark 
streets, many lingering diseases.' 

Sect. 6. — In the Netherlands, 

It is remarkable that the Netherlands were visited by the 
Sweating Fever - full four weeks later, although the commercial 
intercourse with England, if we were to attach any especial im- 
portance to this circumstance, was far more considerable than that 
of the German cities in the North Sea. It appeared for the first 
time in Amsterdam on the 27th of September in the forenoon, 
whilst the city was enveloped in a thick fog,^ and just at the same 
time, perhaps a day earlier, in Antwerp, where, on the 29th of 
September, they made a solemn procession in order by prayer to 
avert greater harm from the city ; for in the last days of Sep- 
tember 400 to 500 people died of the English Sweating Sickness 
at that place.* It might have been supposed that the damp soil 
of Holland, and its impenetrable fogs, would invite the pestilence 
much earlier than the high and serene country between the Alps 
and the Danube, or the far distant land of Prussia, but the de- 
velopment of epidemics follows no human calculation or medical 
views ! In the towns around Amsterdam the Sweating Fever ap- 
pears not to have broken out until the mortality had ceased in 
that city, that is to say, five days after the 2Tth of September, 
so that we cannot be far wrong in assuming that in the latter 
end of that month, and the commencement of October, it had 
spread over the whole territory of the Netherlands, including 
Belgium.^ Alkmaar and "Waterland remained free,'' as doubtless 
had been the case with particular places both in England and 

The exceedingly short time that the Siceating Sickness lasted in 
the different places that it visited, was as astonishing as its 
original appearance. For since it raged in Amsterdam for only 

' Bayer von Elbogen, cap. 7. 

- It was called there the Ingelsche Sweetsieckte, or the Sweating Sickness. 

3 Forest. L. YI. Obs. YII. Schol. p. 157. Obs. VIII. c. Schol. p. 158. Wagenaar, 
T. II. p. 508. 

* Pontan. p. 762. Haraeus, T. I, p. 581. Antwcrpsch Chronvkje, p. 31. Dit/nar, 
p. 473. 

5 "Laquelle (sa suette) s'estendit par le pays d'Oostlande, de Hollande, Zeelande, 
et autres des pays has, on en etoit endedens vingt et quatre lieures mort ou guarry, elle 
ne dura in Zeelande pour le plus que 15 jours, dont plusieurs en raoururcnt." Le Petit, 
T. I. Li\T. YII. p. 81. 

*" Forest, loc. cit. 


five days, and not much longer, as we have shown, in Antwerp 
and many German towns, it could hardly have continued more 
than fifteen days in any other places ; thus displaying the same 
peculiarity on this occasion by which it had already been marked 
in its former visitations. This short period, however, must not 
be understood to include the sporadic occurrence of the disease, 
otherwise, as a contemporary of credit assures us, that the sweat- 
ing fever attacked some persons twice and others three or even 
four times,^ we might thence conclude, that, although perhaps in 
some places the pestilence did, after raging for a certain number 
of days, suddenly cease, so that no isolated cases afterwards 
occurred, yet that the general duration of its prevalence v»'as long- 
er than has been stated. 

Sect. 7. — Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. 

'The eruption of the Sweating Fever in Denmark'- took place 
at the latter end of September, for on the 29th of that month, four 
hundred of the inhabitants died of it at Copenhagen.^ Elsinore 
was likewise severely visited,'' and probably, about the same time, 
most of the towns and villages in that kingdom. But the ac- 
counts on this subject in the Danish Chronicles are extremely 
defective,^ as owing to the extraordinary rapidity of this mortal 
malady, contemporary writers neglected to record, for the in- 
formation of posterity, the details of a phenomenon, which there, 
as in other countries, must certainly have been striking from 
its general prevalence. Even from the imperfect notices that 
were given respecting it, thus much, however, is clearly percept- 
ible, that it was the same well-known disease as elsewhere, which 
was now observed to pass through Denmark. In proof of this, 
it was principally young and strong people, as had been origin- 
ally the case in England, who sickened, the old and infirm being 
less afiected, and in the course of four and twenty hours, or 
at most within two days (?), the life or death of the patient was 

' Erasm. Epist. Lib. XXVI. ep. 58: col. 1477. b. At Zerbst the Sweating Fever 
lasted, in like manner, only five days. Grimer, It. p. 29. 

2 It was called there "den engelske Sved." 

3 Frederick 1. Histor. p. 181. The same words in Huitfeld, T. II. p. 1315. 

^ Boesens Beskrivelse over Helsingoer. For this statement the author has to thank 
Dr. Mansa, regimental physician at Copenhagen. 

5 Dr. Baden, D.C.L., took much pains, at the request of Gruner, in making re- 
searches, but has elicited nothing more than Huitfeld has given. A copy of his Latin 
letter to Gruner on this subject has likewise reached the author through Dr. Matisa. 


At the same period as in Denmark, the Sweating Sickness 
spread over the Scandinanaji Peninsnia, and was productive of 
the same violent symptoms in the sick, the same terror, and the 
same mortal anguish in those who were affected by it, not only 
in the capital of Sweden, where Magnus Erikson, brother of king 
Gustai'us JVasa, died of it, but also over the whole kingdom, and 
in Norway. The northern historians gave graphic accounts of it, 
which, on a careful examination of manuscript documents, might 
perhaps gain still more in colouring and spirit.^ That the Sweat- 
ing Sickness likewise penetrated into Lithuania, Poland, and 
Livonia, if not into a part of Russia, we know only in a general 
vi'ay,^ but doubtless there are written documents still in existence 
in these countries, which only need some careful inquirer to 
bring them to light. In the mean time, however, it is to be pre- 
sumed, from the early appearance of the disorder in Prussia, that 
it prevailed in those countries at the same time as in Gerraan}^ 
Denmark, and the Scandinavian Peninsula. No certain trace is 
anywhere to be discovered that the Sweating Sickness appeared 
so late as December, 1529, or in January of the following year, 
so that, after having lasted upon the whole a quarter of a year, 
it disappeared everywhere, without leaving behind it any sign of 
its existence, or giving rise to the development of any other dis- 
eases. Among these, it pursued its course as a comet among 
planets, without interfering either with the French Hunger 
Fever, or the Italian Petechial Fever, proving a striking example 
to all succeeding ages of those general shocks to which the lives 
of the human race are subject, and a fearful scourge to the gener- 
ation which it visited. 

' Dalin, D. III. p. 221. Engelske Svetten. In TegeV s History of King Gustavus I. 
Part I. p. '267, general notices only are to be found respecting the English Sweating 
Sickness in Sweden, without any exact date (autumn of 1529) or description of the 
disease, such as are met M'ith without number in the German Chronicles. Sven Hedin 
clearly estimates the mortality in the epidemic sweating fever too highly, when he 
compares it, p. 27, with the depopulation caused by the Black Death. He gives (p. 
47) a striking passage on the Sweating Sickness from Linneus's pathological prelections. 
The great naturalist has, however, allowed free scope to his imagination, and, like all 
the physicians of modern times who have delivered their sentiments on the English 
Sweating Sickness, knows ftir too little of the facts to be able to form a right judgment 
on the subject. (Supplement till Handboken for Praktiska Liikarevetenskapcn, rorande 
cpidemiska och smittosamma sjukdomar i allmanhet, och siirdeles de Pestilentialiska. 
1 sta St. Stockholm, 1805. 8vo.) 

- From Rcimar Kock's MS. Chronicle of Liibeck, and Forest, loc. cit. Compare 
Grimer's Itinerarium, which is prepared throughout with laudable and even tedious 
diligence, but which met with so little acknowledgment in the Brunonian age, that it 
has already become a rare work. 

TERKOR. 239 

Sect. 8, — Terror. 

The alarm which prevailed in Germany surpasses all descrip- 
tion, and bordered ujDon maniacal despair. As soon as the pesti- 
lence appeared on the continent, horrifying accounts of the 
unheard-of sufferings of those affected, and the certainty of their 
death, passed like wild-fire from mouth to mouth. Men's minds 
were paralysed with terror, and the imagination exaggerated the 
calamity, which seemed to have come upon them like a last 
judgment. The English Sweating Sickness was the theme of dis- 
course everywhere, and if any one happened to be taken ill of 
fever, no matter of what kind, it was immediately converted into 
this demon, whose spectre form continually haunted the oppressed 
spirit. At the same time, the unfortunate delusion existed, that 
whoever wished to escape death when seized with the English 
pestilence, must perspire for twenty-four hours icithoiit inter- 
mission} So they put the patients, whether they had the Sweat- 
ing Sickness or not (for who had calmness enough to distinguish 
it ?), instantly to bed, covered them with feather-beds and furs, 
and whilst the stove was heated to the utmost, closed the doors 
and windows with the greatest care to prevent all access of cool 
air. In order, moreover, to prevent the sufferer, should he be 
somewhat impatient, from throwing off his hot load, some persons 
in health likewise lay upon him, and thus oppressed him to such 
a degree, that he could neither stir hand nor foot, and finally, in 
this rehearsal of hell, being bathed in an agonizing sweat, gave 
up the ghost, when, perhaps, if his too officious relatives had 
manifested a little discretion, he might have been saved without 

There dwelt a physician in Zwickau — we no longer know the 
name of this estimable man — who, full of zeal for the good of 
mankind, opposed this destructive folly. He went from house to 

' "According to which it was given out by some, that a sweat must be kept up for 
twenty-four hours in succession, and in the mean time, that no air should be admitted 
to the patient. This treatment sent many to their graves." — Erfurt Chronicle. 

2 Erfurt Chronicle, and in the same strain Sjyangenberg, M. Chr. fol. 402. b. 
Pomarius, p. 617, and Schmidt, p. 305. Genuna writes of the Netherlands, L. I. 
c. 8. p. 189, having received his account from his father, who was himself the subject 
of the Sweating Sickness : " Consuti (sewn up) et violenter operti clamitabant 
misere, obtestabantui- Deum atque hominum fidem, sese dimitterent, se suffocari 
iniectis molibus, sese vitam in summis angustiis exhalare^ sed assistentes has querelas 
ex rabie proficisci, niedlcorum ojjinione persiiasi, urgebaut continue usque ad 24 
horas," etc. 


house, and wherever he found a patient buried in a hot bed, dragged 
him out with his own hands, everywhere forbad that the sick should 
thus be tortured with heat, and saved by his decisive conduct 
many, who but for hira, must have been smothered like the rest.' 
It often happened, at this time, that amidst a circle of friends, if 
the Sweating Sickness was only brought to mind by a single word, 
first one, and then another, was seized with a tormenting anguish, 
their blood curdled, and, certain of their destruction, they quietly 
slunk away home, and there actually became a prey to death. ^ 
This mortal fear is a heavy addition to the scourge of rapidly fatal 
epidemics, and is, properly speaking, an inflammatory disease of 
the mind, which, in its proximate effects upon the spirits, bears 
some resemblance to the nightmare. It confuses the understand- 
ing, so as to render it incapable of estimating external circum- 
stances according to their true relations to each other ; it magni- 
fies a gnat into a monster, a distant improbable danger into a 
horrible spectre which takes a firm hold of the imagination ; all 
actions are perverted, and if, during this state of distraction, any 
other disease break out, the patient conceives that he is the devoted 
victim of the much-dreaded epidemic, like those unfortunate per- 
sons, who, having been bitten b}^ a harmless animal, nevertheless 
become the subjects of an imaginary hydrophobia. Thus, during 
the calamitous autumn of 1529, many may have been seized with 
only an imaginary Sweating Sickness, and under the towering 
heap of clothing on their loaded beds have met with their graves.^ 
Others among these brain-sick people who had the good fortune 
to remain exempt from bodily ailments, many of them even boast- 
ing of tlicir firmness, fell, through the violent commotions in their 
nerves, into a state of chronic hypochondriasis, which, under cir- 
cumstances of this sort, is marked by shuddering, and a feeling of 
uneasiness and dread at the bare mention of the original cause of 
terror, even when there is no longer any trace of its existence.^ 
A person thus disordered in his mind, was recently seen to destroy 
himself^ on receiving false intelligence of the return of the late 

' Schmidt, loc. cit. 

2 " Animos omniwn terrore jyerciilit adeo ut multis metus et imaginatio mor- 

bum cojiciliarit." Erasm. Epist. L. XXVI. ep. 56. c. 1476. a. Spangenherg, loc. cit. 

3 " Many an one sweats for fear and thinks be has the English sweat, and when he 
afterwards hath slept it off, acknowledges that it was all nonsense." Bayer v. Elbogen, 
cap. 8. 

* The anthor could adduce some extraordinary instances of this kind which have oc- 
curred in his own practice. 

5 It was a greengrocer in Paris. Berliner Vossische Zeitimg, Sejjt. 2, 1833. 

TEEEOE. ' 241 

epidemic ; thus betraying conduct even more dastardly than those 
cowardly soldiers, who, when the cannon begin to roar, inflict on 
themselves slight wounds that they may avoid sharing the dangers 
of the battle. 

To have a full notion how men's minds were previously pre- 
pared for this state, we have but to think on the monstrous events 
which took place in Germany, Twelve years earlier the gigantic 
work of the Reformation had been begun by the greatest German 
of that age, and, with the Divine power of the gospel, triumphantly 
carried through up to that period. The excitement v/as beyond 
all bounds. The new doctrine took root in towns and villages, 
but nevertheless, the most mortal party hatred raged on all sides, 
and, as usually happens in times of such impassioned commotion, 
selfishness was the animating spirit which ruled on both sides, and 
seized the torch of faith, in order, for her unholy purposes, to en- 
velope the world in fire and flames. 

So early as the year 1521, during Luther's concealment v/ithin 
the walls of Wartburg, false prophets' arose, and desired, without 
the aid of their gi'eat master, who was the soul of that age, to 
complete a work with the spirit of which they were not imbued. 
They brought the wildest passions into action, but, destitute of in- 
nate firmness, and incapable of curbing themselves, they became 
incendiaries and iconoclasts. Immediately upon this the unhappy 
peasant- war broke out — a consequence of the arbitrary conduct 
and oppression practised from times of old, for which the abettors 
of Dr. Eck's sentiments would charge Luther himself as answer- 
able ; not perceiving that it was the excitement of the times and 
of the false prophets which had given occasion to the rebellion. 
Events occurred, from the recollection of which human feeling- 
still recoils. Never was the fair soil of Germany the scene of 
more atrocious cruelties ; and after vengeance had played her in- 
sane part without opposition, the melancholy result was, that 
hundreds of thousands of once peaceful, and for the most part mis- 
led, peasants, fell by the sword of the Lansquenets and of the 
executioner, while their numerous survivors became a prey to the 
dearth which visited the country in the following years. The 
battle of Frankenhausen on the 15tli of May, 1525, and Miinzer's 
subsequent execution, closed this bloody scene. The consequences 
of such intestine commotions continued however to be felt lone 
after, and considered apart from their highly prejudicial influepce 

' Cdrhtadt, Nic. Storeh, Marcus Thomd, Marus Stubner, Marti?i Cellarius, and 
Thomas Miinzer. 



on the prosperity of tlie people, conduced not a little to break the 
spirit of mankind, signs of which the wise men of those times 
have plainly pointed out.' 

Sect. 9. — Moral Consequences. 

The dejection was increased by the universally active spirit of 
persecution with which it was still hoped to eradicate the new 
doctrine. Even whilst the English pestilence was raging, two 
Protestants were burnt at Cologne.^ In the same year faggots 
blazed at Mecklin, Verden, and Paris, by the flames of which the 
ancient faith was to be protected against the pestilence of freedom 
of thought. Sentences of death were also quite commonly pro- 
nounced against the Anabaptists in Protestant countries. The 
University of Leipzig pronounced a condemnation of this sort in 
the year 1529, and in Freistadt eleven women were drowned after 
a nominal trial and sentence, because they acknowledged that they 
were of this sect.-^ Amidst these dissensions, and when the empire 
was in this heli^less condition, came the fear of the barbarians of 
the south, who had already conquered Hungary under their Sultan 
Soliman, and, whilst the English Sweat was raging in the coun- 
tries of the Danube, threatened to overwhelm Germany. It was 
a time of distress and lamentations, in which even the most un- 
daunted could scarcely sustain their courage ;'' but to the everlast- 
ing honour of the Germans it must be acknowledged that they 
withstood this purifying fire with unsullied honour, and in a man- 
ner worthy of themselves. For their noble spirits were aroused to 
unheard-of exertions of energy, and whilst the pusillanimous gave 
themselves up to despair, they impressed on the gigantic work of 
their age the stamp of imperishable truth. 

1 " For all love hath grown cold in all nations ; the axe lieth at the root of the tree, 
the rope is already applied, no one observeth it. For the world is stricken with thick 
blindness, foith is extinguished. All singleness and Godly fear hath withdrawn from 
the land for ever, and nothing but false h}'pocritical make-believe work is to be found 
among the Baptists, and at most a false, fictitious, fruitless, dead, tottering faith in the 
other sects, and yet the world thinks, notwithstanding, that she sees and sits in light. 
In short, for the one devil of the Baptists whom she has driven out, she is beset with 
seven more subtle and wickeder spirits, though she think that she be freed, and that 
they be all gone forth." Franck, fol. 2-48, a. This same Chronicle contains a very 
lively description of the Peasant-war. 

~ Ad. Clarenbach and Peter Flistedt. 3 Sclimidt, p. 308. 

* Nusquam pax, nullum iter tutum est, rcrum charitate, pcnuria, fame, pestilentia 
laboratur ubique, sectis dissecta sunt omnia : ad tantam malorum Icrnam accessit letalis 
sudor, multos intra horas octo toUens e medio, etc. Eras/n. Epist. L. XXVI. ep. 58. c. 
1477. b. 


The siege of Yienna began on the 22ncl of September, after the 
English pestilence had broken out in this capital of Austria, yet 
nobody regarded this internal danger. The repeated attempts 
made by the Turks to storm the town were repulsed with great 
courage, and, on the 15th of October, Soliman raised the siege, 
after the Sweating Sickness had raged with as much violence 
among his troops as among the besieged.^ There is no accu- 
rate intelligence extant upon this subject, because the pestilence 
was less regarded here than elsewhere, in consequence of the 
great distress of the country from other causes, yet the mortality 
in" Austria, under such unfavourable circumstances, was doubtless 
more considerable than in the neighbouring states. ^ 

In the north of Germany another struggle was to be decided. 
The evangelical party wished to declare their faitb before the em- 
pire and its ruler, to reveal the object of their efforts, and to defend 
the purity of their creed against danger and assault. For this 
purpose they prepared themselves with wise discretion, and in the 
measures taken by the reformers for the fortification of the great 
work, not the slightest trace was to be observed of the anxiety 
which at that time agitated the people. In the midst of a country 
whose inhabitants trembled at the new disease, and were perhaps 
already severely afflicted with it, did Luther, whilst at Marburg,^ 
sketch the first outlines of a profession of faith, which, as filled 
up by Melancthon, has become the foundation-stone of the evan- 
gelical church ; and in the following spring, during his stay at 
Coburg, he composed his sublime hymn, " Eine feste burg ist 
unser Gott," a strong fortress is our God. 

It could not but happen that, in the religious struggles which 
took place in these years, especial importance would be attributed 
to the English pestilence. Epidemics readily appear to man, in 
the narrow circle of his view, as scourges of God ; and, indeed, 
this representation of them has ever been the prevailing one in 
all religions. For it is easier to estimate the ever-existino' sins of 
humanity than the grand commotions comprehending both mind 
and body, of a terrestrial organism, which can only be perceived 
by a superior insight into things ; and the mean selfishness of 
mankind and their delusions respecting their own qualities induce 
them to adopt the more easily the partial view, that the Supreme 
Being allows pestilences to exist only to destroy their enemies of 
another faith. On this account, not only do most contemporary 

* Fuhrynann^ Part II. p. 745. 

2 Chronicon Monasterii Mellicensis. In Fez, T. I. col. 285. 

3 The Assembly of the Eeformers began there on the 2nd of October. 

16 * 


writers speak of the just wrath of God, and of the chastisement 
thus prepared for the sins of the world/ but the papal party took 
every possible pains to represent the English pestilence as a 
punishment for heresy and an evident warning against the tri- 
umphant doctrines of Luther. The cases in Hamburgh, where the 
eruption of the Sweating Sickness almost immediately followed 
the abolition of the monasteries, may certainly have obtained 
credit for such representations among the wavering and short- 
sighted, and, in a hundred other towns also, the Papists may have 
taken advantan-e of a similar occurrence of circumstances, for 
1529 was a year when great and important questions were decid- 
ed. At Liibeck, the monks in general preached that the Eng- 
lish sweating fever was but a punishment which heaven inflicted 
on the Martineans, for so they called the followers of Luther, 
and the people were not undeceived until they saw with astonish- 
ment that Catholics also fell sick and died.- They went, how- 
ever, much further, and did not hesitate to employ even falsehood 
and cruel revenffe to g-ain their ends. Thus it was asserted that 
the meeting of the reformers at Marburg, on the 2nd of October, 
had led to no union among them, because a panic at the new dis- 
ease had seized the heretics.^ Never did a dastardly fear of death 
enter the heart of Luther, who, when the plague broke out at 
Wittenberg in 1527, cheerfully and courageously remained at 
his post whilst all around him fled, and the high school was 
removed to Jena. Moreover, as we have seen, the Sweating 
Sickness never once came near Marburg, and the union of the 
two evengelical churches failed on totally difierent grounds. 

In Cologne the zealots were of opinion that they ought to en- 
deavour to appease the visible wrath of God by the punishment of 
the heretics, and it was this sauq:uinarv delusion, worth v of savage 
barbarians, which hastened the burning of Flistedt and Claren- 
bach.** To the completion of this picture of the times, many 
other minor touches might be added, of which the followin<? mav 

' The pamphlet vrritten by Magnus Hiindt is ornamented with a •vrood-cut, where, 
under the throne of God and seated on lions who are spitting forth fire, a great host of 
angels, armed with swords, are hovering round men, whom they treat worse than 
Herod's soldiers treated the children of Bethlehem. 

- Reimar Kock's Chronicle of Liibeck. 

3 Kersenbroick in Sprengel, II. p. 687. Compare Sleidan, L. VI. Tom. I. p. 380, 
who plainly and simply states the fact. 

* Culpam eius rei plerique conferebant in theologos concionatores, qui suppliciis im- 
piorum placandam esse clamabant iram Dei, novo morbi genere nos verberantis. 
Shidan, loc. cit. p. 380. 


be taken as an example. In the March of Brandenburg the 
evangelical faith, notwithstanding great obstacles, spread every 
day more and more, and the Catholic priests soon found them- 
selves deserted. Just as the Sweating Sickness broke out at 
Friedeberg, in the Newmark, a curate there delivered a sermon 
full of enthusiasm and passion, and endeavoured to convince his 
apostate congregation that God had invented a new plague in 
order to chastise the new heresy. A solemn procession, accord- 
ing to ancient usage and orthodox prescription, was to be held 
on the following da}', and thus the congregation was to be led 
back into the bosom of the only true church. But behold, in 
the course of the night, the zealous curate died of some sudden 
disease ; and as mankind are ever ready to interpret even the 
thundei's of the Eternal according to their own wishes and narrow 
notions, the Protestants, it seems, did not fail in their turn to 
represent this event as a miracle.^ 

Sect. 10. — The Physicians. 

Under these circumstances^ the faculty had a very difficult 
problem before them, for the very imperfect solution of which 
they cannot justly be reproached. A learned and active phy- 
sician is certainly one of the noblest of the diversified forms of 
humanity ; for he unites in himself the power arising from an 
insight into the works of nature, with the exercise of a pure 
philanthropy inseparable from his office. Few men, however, 
of this ideal perfection lived in those times, and their mitigating 
influence over the violence of the epidemic, which was generally 
past before they could closely examine their new enemy and 
give any deliberate advice, was doubtless but very inconsiderable. 
By so much the more busy were the ignorant and covetous, who, 
from time immemorial, the more numerous body in the profession, 
have always injured it in its moral dignity. They attacked the 
disease with bold assertions, alarmed the people with inconsider- 
ate representations, lauded the infallibility of their remedies, and 
were the promulgators of injurious prejudices. In the iSTether- 
lands, as we are assured by Tyengius, a physician whom we 
reckon among the learned and benevolent, a vast number of 
patients died of the effects produced by the distribution of per- 
nicious pamphlets, with which the Sweating Sickness was to be 
combated by those ignorant interlopers, who many of them. gave 

' Ilaftitz, p. 131. Angelus, p. 319. Cramer, Book III, p. 76, and many others. 


it out that they had been in England, boasting to the inhabitants of 
their experience and skill, and with their pills and their " hellish 
electuaries," flitting about from place to place,' especially where 
rich merchants were to be found, from whom, should they be re- 
stored, they obtained the promise of mines of gold.^ The like 
occurred in Germanj^ where, at the commencement, the sound 
sense of the people was overcome by this officiousness, and violent 
remedies were recommended as certain means of cure, in a deluge 
of pamphlets, some of which were written b}'- persons not in the 

From this impure source was derived the prescription of the 
compulsory^ perspiration for twenty-four hours, which, in the 
districts of the Rhine, was called the Netherlands regimen ; * and 
it is unpardonable, that the physicians, either with blind pride 
disregarded, or were totally unacquainted with the prior expe- 
rience of the English, which advocated discretion and the most 
appropriate line of treatment. This neglect, which was not com- 
pensated until thousands had already fallen, may possibly have 
arisen from the blameable silence of the English pliysicians, of 
whom, as if England had not yet been enlightened by the dawn of 
science, not an individual had written on the Sweating Sickness, 
or proposed a reasonable line of treatment, since the year 1485. 
Between England and German}^ there existed, nevertheless, a 
constant intercourse ; and it is incredible that that mode of pro- 
cedure, which did not originate from a formal medical school, but 
from the sound sense of the people, should not have become ear- 
lier known on this side of the North Sea. 

We must not here overlook the habits and domestic manners 
of the Germans, for these favoured not a little the baneful pre- 
judice with regard to heat, for which we would not altogether 
make the physicians responsible. Housewives, even at that time, 

1 "Yeriira qiiamplurimi, tarn nobiles quani populares viri ac mulieres, hoc morbo 
misere suffocati sunt, ob lihellos erroiieos, ab indoctissimis hominibus in vulgiis eraissos, 
qui in eiusmodi lue curanda peritiam et experientiara jactabant, multosque in Anglia 
aliisque regionibus sese curasse dicebant, cum omnia falsa essent. Tales inquam mi- 
nima pietate fiilti erga aegrotos, illorum loculos tantum expilabnnt, ac in sui commodum 
convcrtebant, nullam de aliorura damnis nee morte ipsa curam gcrcntes, sed quae sua 
sunt tantum cm-antes, nulla arte instructi miseros aegros, passim sua ignorantia truci- 
dabant." Forest. L. VI. obs. 8. p. 158. a. 

2 " Ditissimi negociatores, lectis adfixi medicos ad se vocabant, montes auri promit- 
tentes, si curarentur." Ditmar, p. 473. 

3 Nam occlusis rimis omnibus, et excitato igne eopioso, opertisque stragulis, quo 
magis tutiusque suderent, a?stu pra?focati sunt." Forest, loc. pit. p. 157. b. 

^ Wild, in BaUinger, p. 278. 


set far too much store by high beds, which annually received the 
feathers of the geese consumed at the table. The comforts of a 
warm feather-bed were highly appreciated, and least of all were 
they disposed to deny them to the sick. Thus all inflammatory 
disorders were stimulated to much greater malignity, because 
such a bed either caused a dry heat, even to the extent of burning 
fever, or a useless debilitating perspiration. To this efiect the 
very extensive misuse of hot baths conduced ; and no less so the 
custom of clothing much too warmly. Upon the whole the notion 
was prevalent, as well with the people as with medical men, that 
diseases were to be combated by warmth and sudorifics. To new 
epidemics, however, the prevailing notions and customs are al- 
waj's applied; for the great mass of mankind, among whom may 
be included medical men, are entirely ruled by them ; so that in 
this instance, the Sweating Sickness fell upon a country in which 
its utmost malignity would be called forth. 

Yet after the first few days, in which many unfortunate cases 
occurred, people became aware of the error they had committed. 
An advocate of the twenty- four hours' sudation, who, though not 
a medical man, had lauded this practice in a pamphlet on the sub- 
ject,^ died in Zwickau on the 5th of September, the victim of his 
own imprudence. A few days after him died an apothecary, like- 
wise treated with the heated bed. Upon this the physicians im- 
mediately abandoned the practice, directed that their patients 
should be sweated only for five or six hours, and in a more moderate 
degree : and the estimable anonymous writer to whom we have 
already alluded, thus seemed to meet with converts to his belief. 
In Hamburgh also, men became convinced of the pernicious effects 
of feather-beds, and gave the preference to coverings of blankets ; ^ 
for the English plan of treatment was presently known, and in- 
telligent philanthropists, who saw its curative powers, made it 
public^ in all quarters, through the medium of their correspond- 
ence. In Lubeck there lived at the time of the Sweating Fever a 
learned Protestant Englishman, Dr. Anthony Barns, who, with 
great kindness, made known everywhere the English treatment of 
the disease. He was, however, after the cessation of the pestilence, 
banished the city, because he had petitioned the bigoted Catholic 
senate to tolerate his Protestant brethren. IMany were saved by 
him; for it was the practice in this city also, to steio to death^ 

1 The printer Frantz. Schmidt, p. 307. ^ Stchner, Part II. p. 219. 

3 This appears fi-om the Wittenberg regimen. 
* JReimar Kock's Chronicle of Liibeck. 


those affected with the disease. In Stettin the English treatment 
was promulgated in good time, and two travelling artisans who 
had come thither from Hamburgh, were of the greatest assistance to 
the inhabitants of this city, by advising them to take the feathers 
out of their upper beds ; they made knowTi likewise how the sick- 
ness had been treated with success. They had seen cases them- 
selves, and could therefore distinguish by their odour those who 
were suffering from the true sweating epidemic, from those who 
were seized ^vith fever arising from panic. They were constantly 
besieged by persons asking questions and seeking assistance ; and 
when the disease was at its greatest height, the streets were quite 
illuminated at niglit by the lights of the relatives of the patients,' 
who were running in all directions in a state of distraction. The 
abhorrence of feather-beds, and the hot plan, now followed so quickly 
the blind recommendation of the twenty-four hours' sweat, that 
by the middle of September, and in many places still earlier, more 
correct views were generally adopted, and some intelligent men, 
after the sad experience which had been gained, seized the oppor- 
tunity of doing more good to the public than their noisy predecess- 
ors, who had by this time so abundantly supplied the churchyards 
with bodies. Among these literallv and truly beneficent physi- 
cians may be reckoned Peter Wild, at TTorms,- who warned his 
countrymen against the Netherlands practice ; ' as also an anony- 
mous person (the names of the best often remain unknown in 
times of confusion), who, in popular language, strenuously dis- 
suaded the people against the use of feather-beds.^ It also soon 

' Klemzen, p. 255, 

- In Gratoroli : Petnis, proto medicus, fol. 90. ^ Seeliis pamphlet. 

* I here give the whole pamphlet, which only occupies five pages. It is entitled, 
'• The Eemedy, Adnce, Succour, and Consolation against the dreadful, and as yet by us 
Germans unheard-of, speedy, and mortal Disease, called the English Sweating Sickness, 
from which may Almighty God mercifully protect us." 

" When the disease and sweating sets in, ask what o'clock it is, and note it. 

" If any one be afflicted with this pestilenee (may God protect us from it I) it attacks 
him either with heat or with cold, and he will sweat violently ; and this will take place 
all over his body. Some take the disease with sudden eructations, and do not sweat; 
and to those who do not sweat, a flower of mace with warm beer is given, and then they 

" But if the pestilence and disease, from which may God preserve us ! attack any one 
after he has lain down in bed, he must be left there ; but if he has a feather-bed, though 
a thin one, over him, cut it open and take the feathers out, that it may consist only of 
the ticking or covering. If it be too thin, add a cool coverlet, and let the patient lie 
under that, covered up to the neck, and take care that the air do not touch or strike upon 
his breast, or under his arms, and the soles of his feet, and let him not toss about. 

" Item. Two men should attend the patient, to prevent him from uncovering him- 
self, and from going to sleep. 


became a common saying, " The Sweating Sickness will bear no 
medicine." ' 

There is no ground for supposing that the influence of the 
faculty was much greater in the country where the Sweating 
Sickness originated than it was in Germany, for the number of 
learned physicians there was still fewer, and the knowledge of 
medicine not nearly so extended as it was in Italy, Germany, and 
France. The learned Linacre had already died in the year 1524. 
John Chambre,- Edward Wotton,^ and George Owen,"' were the 
King's body physicians about the time of the fourth epidemic 
visitation of the Sweating Sickness. William Butts,^ of whom 

" Item. The same two men must watch the patient, and guard him against sleeping : 
if they neglect this, and do not so prevent him, and the patient sleep, he will lose his 
senses, and go raving mad. 

" In order, however, that he may be prevented from sleeping, take a little rose-water, 
and by means of a sponge or clean napkin, bathe his temples with it between the eyes 
and the ears, and by means of a sponge or napkin, apply pungent wine or beer vinegar 
to his nose, and talk constantly to him so that he fall not asleep. 

" If he would drink, give him a thin beverage, which should be a little warm ; and 
he ought not to be given more than two spoonfuls at a time. 

" Item. On the patient's head should be placed a linen night-cap, and a woollen one 
over it. 

" Item. A warm towel should be taken, and with it the sweat wiped from the face. 

" Item. "ftTioever is attacked in the day-time must be put to bed ; if it be a man, in 
his stockings and breeches ; if a woman, in her clothes ; and let them be covered over 
with not more than two thin coverings ; and above all things, no feather-bed ; and then 
treat them as above written. 

" Item. The disease attacks most people from great dread and from irregular living, 
from which a man should guard himself with great pains. 

" Once for all, the patient must not have his own way ; what he would have you do 
for him, that must not be done. 

" Item. With respect to those whom it attacks in the night, and who lie naked, if 
they will not lie still, let them be sewn up in the sheets, and let the sheets be sewn to 
the bed, so that no air can come from beneath ; and then cover them as before. 

" Summa. Whoever can thus endure for twenty-four hours, by the blessing of God, 
will be cured of the sickness, and get well. 

" If a man has held out for twenty-four hours, let him be taken up, and wrapped in 
a warm sheet lest he become cold, and throw something over his feet, and bring him to 
the fire ; and, above all things, let him not go into the air for four days, and let him 
avoid much and cold drink. 

" If he would sleep, provided twenty-four hours have been passed, let him sleep freely ; 
and may God preserve him ! 

" The Lord is Almighty over us ! Amen." 

The place of publication is wanting. It was probably either Leipzig or Wittenberg. 

1 Magnus Hundt, fol. 27. a. "Nullis vero aliis medicamentis utuntur adversus 
ipsam, quam expectatione sudoris, nam quibus advenit, omnes fere evadunt, quibus 
autem retinetur, maxima pars perit." Forest, loc. cit. p. 159. a. Schol. 

2 Born about 1483 ; died 1549. » gorn 1492 ; died 1555. ■• Died 1558. 
5 Died 1545. " Vir gravis ; eximia litterarum cognitione, singulari judicio, summa 

experientia, et prudenti consilio Doctor." Aikin, p. 47. 


Shakespeare* has rnadc honourable mention, in all probability like- 
wise held a similar office. These were certainly distinguished and 
worthy men,'^ but posterity has gained nothing from them on the 
subject of the English Sweating Sickness. All these physicians 
were well informed, zealous, and doubtless also cautious followers 
of the ancient Greek school of medicine, but their merits were of 
no advantage to the people, who, when they departed from the 
dictates of their own understanding, and did not content them- 
selves with domestic remedies, to which they had been accustomed, 
fell into the hands of a set of surgeons so rude and ignorant that 
they could only exist in the state of society which then prevailed.^ 

1 In Henrij VIII. ^ ggg their biograpby, in Aikin. 

3 Thomas Gale's description of this class of medical practitioners gives the best no- 
tion of their abilities. " I remember," says he, " when I was in the wars at Montreuil 
(1544), in the time of that most famous Prince, Henry YIII., there was a great rabble- 
ment there, that took upon them to be surgeons. Some were sow gelders, and some 
horse gelders, with tinkers and cobblers. This noble sect did such great cures, that they 
got themselves a perpetual name ; for like as Thessalus' sect were called Thessalions, so 
was this noble rabblement, for their notorious cures, called dog-leeches ; for in two 
dressings they did commonly make their cures whole and sound for ever, so that they 
neither felt heat nor cold, nor no manner of pain after. But when the Duke of Nor- 
folk, who was then general, understood how the people did die, and that of small wounds, 
he sent for me and certain other surgeons, commanding us to make search how these 
men came to their death, whether it were by the grievousncss of their wounds, or by the 
lack of knowledge of the surgeons, and we, according to our commandment, made search 
through all the camp, and found many of the same good fellows which took upon them 
the names of surgeons, not only the names, but the wages also. "We asking of them 
whether they were surgeons or no, they said they were ; we demanded with whom they 
were brought up, and they, with shameless faces, would answer, either ■with one cunning 
man, or another, which was dead. Then we demanded of them what chirurgery stuff 
they had to cure men withal ; and they would show us a pot or a box, which they had 
in a budget, wherein was such trumpery as they did use to grease horses' heels withal, 
and laid upon scabbed horses' backs, with verval and such like. And others that were 
cobblers and tinkers, they used shoemakers' wax, with the rust of old pans, and made 
therewithal a noble salve, as they did term it. But in the end this worthy rabblement 
was committed to the Marshalsca, and threatened by the Duke's Grace to be hanged for 
their worthy deeds, except they would declare the truth, what they were and of what 
occupations, and in the end they did confess, as I have declared to you before." 

In another place Gale says, " I have, myself, in the time of King Henry YIII., holpe 
to furnish out of London, in one year, which served by sea and laud, threescore and 
twelve surgeons, which were good -workmen, and well able to serve, and all English 
men. At this present day there are not thirty-four, of all the whole company, of Eng- 
lishmen, and yet the most part of them be in noblemen's service, so that if we should 
have need, I do not know where to find twelve sufficient men. "What do I say ? suffi- 
cient men : nay, I would there were ten amongst all the company, worthy to be called 


Sect. 11. — Pamphlets. 

Inexplicable as the silence of the learned physicians of Eng- 
land, on the Sweating Sickness, appears at first view, (for where 
is the use of learning if it fail to throw any light on the stormy 
phenomena of life ?) we may yet find, perhaps, its cause in a per- 
fectly simple external circumstance. The Reformation had not j^et 
begun in England, the Catholic Church still stood on its ancient 
foundations, and an intellectual intercourse between the learned 
and the people was not by any means among the acknowledged 
desiderata. The faculty would hence have been able to treat 
of the new disorder only in ponderous Latin works, for they 
wrote unwillingly in their own language, and the subject could 
not seem to them an appropriate one for this purpose, because 
they found it unnoticed and uninvestigated by their highly rever- 
ed masters the Greeks. They were ignorant that a sweating- 
fever had ever appeared among the ancients, which, otherwise, 
might have incited them to make researches of their own on the 
subject ; for Aurelian, who describes it to the life, was either un- 
known to them, or, what at that time was a valid ground, was 
despised by them, on account of his bad (unclassical) language. 

In Germany, on the contrary, the intellectual wants of the 
people and of the educated classes had already manifested them- 
selves very differently. Twelve years before, the age of pamphlets 
had there commenced. The thoughts of Luther and of his dis- 
ciples, as also of his opposers, were winged by the rapid press, 
and the people took an impassioned part in the endeavours of the 
learned to efiect their conviction, and by this altogether novel 
and authoritative mode of religious instruction, became gradually 
educated and guided. Hence it is not to be wondered at that 
people began to investigate, in pamphlets, other important sub- 
jects likewise, and thus we see this weighty branch of intellectual 
commerce, with all its advantages and defects, also turned towards 
the discussion of popular diseases, and for the first time unfolding 
its numerous leaves on the subject of the English epidemic. In 
the maritime cities nothing of this kind happened, because the 
eruption of the pestilence took them by surprise, and as it was 
over again in the course of a few weeks, it seemed no longer 
worth while to instruct the people respecting it. 

This surprise was very plainly shown in the answer of the 
doctors and licentiates who were assembled together at the bed- 


side of the Ducliess, at Stettin : " the disease was new and un- 
known to them : they were at a loss what to advise, excepting 
strengthening medicines."^ In the central parts of Germany, on 
the contrary, where, as early as the month of August, the report 
of the new plague had excited the utmost alarm, and where an 
eruption of the pestilence in Zwickau had caused a general flight, 
publications on the Sweating Sickness were even within that 
month, and still more numerously in September, disseminated in 
all directions. As scientific productions, they are almost all of 
them worthless. Many of them, indeed, did harm, and but very 
few promulgated correct views. Most of them are now lost, as, 
for example, that which was published by the printer Frantz, at 
Zwickau, on the 3rd of September : but in what vast numbers 
they were published appears from the circumstance that Dr. 
Bayer, at Leipzig, who brought out his own on the 4th of Sep- 
tember, states that he has read many of them, and expresses his 
indignation against these "new unfounded little books," by which 
the people were misled to their own sorrow and suffering.^ This 
same Dr. Bayer writes in the style of an intelligent practical phy- 
sician, inveighs boldly against the prejudices of mankind, and the 
ignorance of medical journeymen, and against their senseless 
bleedings whenever they see the barber's basin and his pole. 
Some of his advice too is not bad, especially where he is speaking 
of the Arabian use of harmless syrups. He, however, religiously 
preserves all the rubbish of his age, and has a great opinion of 
preventive bleedings, purgatives, and powerful medicines, of 
which he prescribes so many that his reader is necessarily confused 
by their multiplicity. His precepts respecting the sweat are 
very appropriate, for he gives a caution against forcing perspira- 
tion, prescribes according to the circumstances, and even com- 
mences the treatment with an emetic, if the state of the stomach 
seems to indicate its employment. In order to guard against con- 
tagion, he recommends, at the approaching autumnal fair, that 
foreigners from " dying lands " should he accommodated in dis- 
tinct iims, that fumigation should be carefully employed, and that 
before each booth at the fair a fire should be kept up. 

Another pamphlet by Caspar Kegeler, of Leipzig, is a melan- 
choly monument of the credulity which, from Herophilus to the 
present day, has pervaded the whole medical art. It is a regular 
pharmacopoeia for the Sweating Sickness, thrown together at a 
venture, without any insight into the nature of the disease. A 

' Klemzeti, p. 255. 2 p^rt I. cap. 8. 


mine of wonderful pills and electuaries composed of numberless 
ingredients wherewith this " mysterious worthy " undertakes to 
raise a commotion in the bodies of his patients. If he had but 
seen even a single case of the disease he would at least have 
known how impossible it would be to administer, within the space 
.of four-and-twenty hours, the hundredth part of his pills and 
draughts. With what approbation this little pharmacopoeia was 
received by physicians of equal penetration and understanding as 
himself, is shown by the eight editions which it passed through,^ 
and the melancholy reflection is therefore forced upon us, that 
possibly thousands of sick persons were maltreated and sacrificed 
from the employment of Kegeler's medicines. 
- A third physician at Leipzig, Dr. John Hellwetter, states in 
his pamphlet, that he has become acquainted with the SAveating 
Fever in foreign countries, and on the subject of perspiration 
gives some very good advice, evidently the result of his own ex- 
perience, which reminds us of the original English mode of treat- 
ment. His notion that fish is injurious seems to have originated 
in the fact that the continued employment of fish as an article of 
diet gives rise to offensive perspirations, and his admonition to 
his medical brethren not to flee from the sick, but to visit them 
sedulously and give them consolation, furnishes ground for sup- 
posing that some of them had been pusillanimous and dishonour- 
able enough to withdraw themselves or to refuse their assistance 
to the poor. 

Almost all the medical men of those times were in. possession 
of arcana, which they employed either in all or at least in most 
diseases, in a ver}^ unprofessional manner, and the efficacy of 
which the sweet delusions of self-interest did not permit them to 
call in question. The severe metallic remedies of the Spagyric 
school, which was then in its infancy, were not yet introduced, 
but there were not wanting: strong- heatinsr medicines from the 
ancient stores of the empyrics, which almost universally obtained 
the preference over the mild potions and syrups of the Arabians. 
Hellwetter sold a powder of unknown composition, and a number 
of distilled waters, which Dr. Magnus Hundt, of Leipzig, notices 
with much approbation. The pamphlet of this phj^sician is in 
every respect of the most ordinary kind ; it affords no proof that 
the author had any sound comprehension of the disease, and be- 
longs to that class of low medical compositions which, in times of 
danger, is so easily derided by the public, and so much diminishes 

1 Gruner, Script, p. 11. 


the estimation of the profession, to the material injury of the 
general welfare. 

It must not, however, be supposed that the people, who in such 
times of commotion often confound together the good and the bad, 
listened everywhere so readily to these pamphleteers. The com- 
posilion of one Dr. Klump, at Ueberlingen, who, on the breaking 
out of the disease, attacked his patients with theriac and all kinds 
of heating plague powders, excited great derision,' and it cannot 
be denied that the people had on their side, at least occasionally, 
the advantage of sound sense, as opposed to the endless prescrip- 
tions of the physicians, and it is gratifying to observe how this 
sound sense, which doubtless was guided by respectable medical 
men, operated in a great many towns to the advantage of those 

This is proved by a pamphlet, written in popular language, by 
a physician in Wittenberg,^ which contains such correct medical 
views, that our highest approbation is, even now, justly due to 
its unknown author, as showing, throughout, great judgment and 
a very competent knowledge of the Sweating Fever. His whole 
treatment is mild and cautious ; he forbids the use of feather-beds, 
but strongly inculcates the necessity of avoiding every kind of 
chill, and therefore recommends a practice in use at that time, 
called " the sewing of the sick,''^ that is to say, fastening the edge 
of the bed clothes to the bed with a needle and thread. He or- 
ders his patients a moderate quantity of warm^iiut not heating 
beverage,^ refreshes them with syrup of roses, and impresses upon 
his readers that the majority of those affected will recover with- 
out medicine. In order to guard against the stupor which was 
so exceedingly fatal, in addition to continual conversation, refresh- 
ing odours of rose water and aromatic vinegar were held before 
the patients' nose, in a moderately damp cloth, or their temples 
were cautiously bathed with them. Convalescents were watched 
with great care, and it is not the least excellence of this very 
sterling pamphlet that it likewise combated the timidity of the 
sick with the inculcation of mild, but manly, religious principles, 
such as corresponded with the spirit of that age. The rules here 

' " Vix raalevolonim cachinnos niorsusquc prneteriit." Schiller, Epist. nimcupator, 
the title which Gruncr, Script, p. 12, gives to the original work, still existing in the 
library at Strasburg, and a Latin extract from it. GratoroU, fol. 39. 

- Sec the Catalogue in the Appendix, "Ein Regiment," &c. 

3 Any kind of weak beer with the chill off. Warm beer was a beverage in general 
use in the north of Germany. The beer of Bimheck and Bcrnau was stronger, and 
was recommended by medical men during the convalescence. 


laid down are, in essentials, the original English precepts, which 
had already broken the force of the epidemic Sweating Sickness 
in the year 1485, and the author does not conceal his having in 
this matter received information from Hamburgh, so far back as 
the 7th of August. That by this mode of treatment not only in- 
dividual patients ^ were saved, but also that whole cities were 
protected against any very great mortality, we are willing with 
the author to believe, and on this account we cannot but lament 
the more, that the medical science of the rigid schools of those 
days so completely mistook its office as the guardian of life, and 
that it caused greater sacrifices by its hazardous remedies than 
the pestilence would otherwise have occasioned. 

How soon the English treatment met with the recognition 
which it deserved may be gathered from a Latin composition 
nearly of the same tenour as the above, and which appears to be 
an extract from some German pamphlets.^ Besides aromatic 
odoriferous waters, the very harmless and only remedies therein 
recommended are pearls and corals given internally by tablespoon- 
fuls in warm rose water. As a prophylactic, treacle, which was 
in very common use, was recommended to be taken in the juice 
of roasted onions, but only in very small doses. Similar just 
views with respect to the excitement of perspiration were also 
subscribed to by other physicians,"^ and finally the great council 
at Berne, on the 18th of December, published an exhortation to 
patience and unshaken courage, in which the use of feather-beds 
and of all medicines, except cinnamon water, was earnestly de- 
precated ^ during the disease. The court of Holland also recom- 
mended a method of cure''' apparently English, these two docu- 
ments being the onlj' traces, on the part of any governments, of a 
paternal solicitude for their subjects. 

The learned and accomplished Euricius Cordus,^ of Marburg, 
had, when he wrote,^ no information respecting the successful 
English mode of treatment, and, with all his celebrity, only fol- 
lowed in the ranks of ordinary advisers. He could not free him- 
self from the medical precepts which he brought from Italy, and 

' "I had in my house seven Ij'ing ill with the same disease, of which, thank God, 
none died." From the letter of an inhabitant of Hamburgh, given in the same pam- 
phlet, " Ein Regiment," &c. 

2 Gratorol. fob 87- b. s Gratorol. fob 90. 

* Stealer, Part II. p. 33. ^ Wagenaar, op. cit. p. 509. 

6 His proper name was Henry Spateii (German Spcit, in English late), whereof 
Cordus (the last born or late-born) seems to have been a translation. 

' The second of September. 


gave to the only patient at Marburg, who was the subject of the 
Sweating Sickness, the very disagreeable, though much -employed, 
potion of " Benedetto." ' His prophjdactic ordinances were very 
burthensome, though with respect to the frequent employment of 
purgatives, which at that time almost all physicians recommended, 
it must be taken into account, that the intemperance, so prevalent 
in those days, rendered them in general more necessary, perhaps, 
than they are at the present time. Bishop Ditmar of Merseburg 
has betrayed to posterity, that this celebrated m^an had a great 
dread of the new disorder, and did not conceal his anxiety.^ 

There is still extant a ver}^ complicated prescription of Achilles 
Gasscr,^ the learned physician of Augsburg, which he employed 
with childish confidence '' during the prevalence of the sweating 
pestilence. We might class this with a thousand others of a 
similar character, were it not evident how little medical art, at 
that time in its ancient Greek garb, was suited to the exigency of 
the age, being dull, inefficient, and long since robbed of its origin- 
al spirit ; for thus alone was it taught in the universities. 

In the copious epistle of Simon Ptiquinus to the Count of New- 
enar at Cologne,^ traces of better principles are indeed observable, 
which were soon disseminated from Hamburgh all over Germany, 
yet the prophylactic measures recommended are not much better 
than those in use in the time of the Emperor Antoninus, when 
the Theriaca of Andromachus was among the necessaries at the 
Koman court. Riquinus incidentally tells a story of a peasant in 
the neighbourhood of Cleve, who, having become affected by the 
English Sweating Sickness, crept as quickly as he could into a 
baker's oven that was still hot, and after some time again made 
his appearance in an exhausted state.'' This very circumstance 

' li Pulvcris carcliaci (very complex, containing precious stones and many other 
ingredients), ^ij ; Pulveris cornu cervi 5J ; Serainis Santonici, Myrrhce, aa z{\. n\- ft- 
Pulv. Sum'. 5J ; in warm wine-vinegar. 

2 Chronicle, p. 473. » Born loOo; died 1577. 

* It is the Electuarium llberans Gasseri : — R Spec, liherant. Galen, Spec, de gemm. 
au 3J, Pulveris Dictamn., Tormeutill, Serpentinae, aa 9iv, Pimpinell. Zedoariae. aa 
5fi, Bol. Armen. lot. ; Terr, sigillat. aa 3ij Easur. Cornu cervin. 3j, Zingiber, ^fi, 
Conserv. Rosar, rcc. ^{1, Theriac. reteris ,f j, Syrup, acetositatis citri. q. s. ut ft. 
electuar. spiss. — Velsch, p. 19. — Gasser states in his Augsburg Chronicle, that there 
were more than 3000 cases of the disease there, but that not more than 600 died. 
See Menckeii, Scriptores rerum Germanicarum. 

* Gratorol. fol. 74. b. 

^ Gratorol. fol. 80. Probably this epistle does not differ essentially from the Latin 
work of this author on the sweating fever which appeared separately. (De l^poTrwpfroD, 
sen sudatoria; febris curationc Liber. Coloni;Ti, 1529. 4.) 


proves that the man laboured under only an imaginary and not a 
real s\^^eating fever, but the belief that the bread which was after- 
wards baked in this oven was infected with the poison, can only 
be attributed to the credulity of the learned physician. 

The Count of Newenar^ expresses himself on the subject of the 
sweating fever, like a person well informed, and not unacquaint- 
ed with medical subjects, and endeavours to prove the critical 
nature of the sweat by the frequent practice of the empyrics, to 
throw persons afflicted with the plague, at the very beginning of 
the attack, into a profuse perspiration.^ He takes the opportunity 
to relate of an unprincipled physician, that he freed himself in 
this manner from the plague, in a public bath, while those who 
came after him became every one of them affected with the disease, 
and died. According to his account, the English Sweating Sick- 
ness was by no means fatal in and about Cologne,^ yet we find it 
with all its original malignity on the banks of the Scheldt, and in 
the maritime towns of the Netherlands. 

This plainly appears from the pamphlet of a physician in great 
practice at Ghent, Tertius Damianus, from Vissenaeckcn, near 
Tirlemont,"* whose own wife fell sick of the sweating fever, and 
fortunately was again restored.^ The cases whereof Damianus 
gives an account, are among the most marked of which any men- 
tion is made, and it also seems that the disease, contrary to the 
opinion of many, arose from fear alone, and manifested in the 
Netherlands a much greater power of contagion than in Germany, 
to which the hot treatment may have contributed.^ The manner 
in which Damianus restrained his patients from indulging in 
their propensity to sleep, is worthy of notice. When the usual 
means failed, he directed that their hair should be torn out, that 
their limbs should be tied together in painful positions, and that 
vinegar should be dropped into their eyes : ^ the danger justified 
these means, but violence does not easily attain its end. For the 
rest, the views of this physician do not differ from those common- 
ly entertained, and if he complains ^ of the great extortions of 
the apothecaries, this was a natural effect of the customary pre- 
scriptions, whereof he himself recommends many that are very 

1 Gratorol. fol. 64. 2 Gratorol. fol. 69. b. 

3 Yidemiis, quam multi de sudore convalescant, fol. 66. a. 

* This town is called in Flemish Tienen (Thenaj in Montibus), translated by 
Damiatius Decicopolis. s Fol. 117. a. ^ Fol. 109. a. '' Fol. 116. b. 

8 Fol. 118. a. Damianus wrote his, by no means unimportant, treatise during the 
prevalence of the epidemic sweating fever in Ghent. 



Whatever the science of medicine of the sixteenth century 
could oppose to so fearful an enemy, is set forth, in the very 
excellent treatise of Joachim Schiller ' of Frieburg, which, how- 
ever, did not appear until two years later, and unfortunately 
does not give the wished-for information on the development of 
the pestilence in the Briesgau. Schiller is moderate in his views, 
and shows throughout, that he is a very well-informed physician, 
and well versed in Greek literature ; and although he cannot 
steer clear of the rubbish of clumsy remedies, yet the fault should 
not be charged on him, but on the age in which he lived. This, 
like every other, had its evils, and enveloped in clouds and dark- 
ness the genius of medicine, which, free, great, and elevated 
above human short-sightedness, is respected only by the intellect- 
ual servants of nature. 

Sect. 12. — Form of the Disease. 

The notions of the contemporary writers respecting the phe- 
nomena and the course of the sweating epidemic are, it is true, 
individually unsatisfactory and defective ; ^ yet, collectively, we 
may gather from them a lively and complete picture of its effect 
on the human frame ; especially from the German observers, who 
reported truly and honestly their own, as well as the general ex- 
perience of their age ; for the English had up to that period 
described little more than the external appearances of this epi- 
demic, which had already attacked them for the fourth time. 

It is ascertained that the Siceating Fever was in genercd very 
injlammatory ; and, leaving out of the account its sequel, came 
to a crisis at most in four and twenty hours ; yet within this 
narrow limit as to time, very various symptoms occurred,^ so that 
by a more exact observation than could be expected from the 
physicians of those days, several gradations of its development 
and violence might have been distinguished from each other. Thus 
one form of this disease appeared that was wanting in precisely 
that symptom which was the most essential, namely, the colliqua- 
tive sweating* (as in the most dangerous form of cholera, neither 

1 He styles himself Schiller von Herdcren, from an estate in the village of that name 
close to Freiburg. 

* 5c/u7/e)" says with great naivete, "that the symptoms of the disease arc evident, 
and that those which he has not indicated must be imagined." Sect. II. c. 1. fol. 206. 

3 " Habet inconstantes notas morbus." Schiller. "Di versos diversimode adoritur." 
Damian. fol. 115. b. 

* See above, the remcdium, p. 248, note *. Sudoris absentia plurimura nocebat. 
—Forest, p. 158. Schol. 


vomiting nor purging takes place), and which, by its overpower- 
ing attack, either destroyed life within a few hours, or perhaps 
took some other turn of a nature unknown to us. 

Premonitory symptoms were wanting altogether, unless we may 
reckon as such, first, an anguish, combined with palpitation of 
the heart, which may not have been of corporeal origin, but may 
have proceeded from the general alarm ; or secondly, an irre- 
sistible sinking of the powers resembling a swoon, which, per- 
haps, preceded the disorder, in the same manner as it had pre- 
ceded the general eruption of the plague in northern Germany : ' 
or thirdly, rheumatic pains of various kinds, which were frequent- 
ly felt in the summer of 1529 ; ^ or finally, a disagreeable taste 
in the mouth and foul breath, which were very commonly the 
subject of complaint at that time.^ 

In most instances the disease set in like the generality of fevers, 
with a short shivering Jit ^ and trembling, which in very malig- 
nant cases even passed into convulsions of the extremities ; ^ in 
many it began with a moderate and constantly increasing heat,'' 
either without any evident occasion, even in the midst of sleep, 
so that the patients on waking lay in a state of perspiration, or 
from a state of intoxication, and during hard work,'^ especially in 
the morning at sunrise.® Many patients experienced at the com- 
mencement a disagreeable creeping sensation or formication on 
their hands and feet^ which passed into pricking pains, and an 
exceedingly j'jaw?/";^^ se;^s«Z^^o?^ «wf/er ^Ae «r«7.s. At times likewise 
it was combined with rheumatic cramps, and with such a weari- 
ness in the upper part of the body, that the sufierers were totally 
incapable of raising their arms.^" Some were seen during these 
attacks, especially women and those who were weak, with their 
hands and feet swollen.^' 

Serious affections of the brain quickly followed ; many fell into 
a state of violent feverish delirium, ^^ and these generally died.'^ 

1 See above, p. 227. Klemzen, p. 254. 

- Bayer, cap. 6. M. Htmdt, fol. 5. a. ^ Bayer, loc. cit. 

* Anyelus, p. 319. Schiller, Stettler, locis cit. : and many others. 

5 Damian. fol. 115. b. ^ Schiller, loc. cit. 

■^ The Eegimen of "Wittenberg. 8 DatniMi. fol. 115. b. 

3 Klemzen, p. 255. 

10 " Ungues potissimum excruciat, alas ita comprimit, ut etiam si velis, non posses at- 
toUere." Forest, p. 157. Schol. " In extremitatibus puncturis retorqiientur doloro- 
sis — extremitates obstupefiunt, dolet orificium ventriculi, nervorum contractiones nas- 
cuntur, plantarum pedumque dolores." — Damiati. fol. 116. a. 

'^ Damian. loc. cit. '2 Klemzen, loc. cit. 

^3 " N'ec quenquam vidimus ita delirantem restitutum incolumitati." — Damian. fol. 
116. a. 



All complained of obscure 2)ain in the head ; ' and it was not 
long before an alarming lethargy supervened,"^ which, if it was 
not firmly resisted, led to inevitable death by apoplexy. Thus 
the unconscious sufferers were, at least, relieved from the pain of 
separation from their friends, which would have been much more 
distressing to them in this than in any other complaint, since they 
lay, as it were, in a stinking swamp, tortured with suffering. 

This mortal anguish accompanied them so long as they were 
in possession of their senses, throughout the whole disease.^ In 
many the countenanee teas bloated and Ikid, or at least the lips and 
cavities of the eyes were of a leaden tint ; whence it evidently 
appears, that the passage of the blood through the lungs was 
obstructed in the same way as in violent asthma ; ^ hence they 
hreathed icith great difficulty, as if their lungs were seized with a 
violent spasm or incipient paralysis ; at the same time, the heart 
trembled and palpitated constantly under the oppressive feeling 
of inward burning, which, in the most malignant cases, flew to 
the head, and excited fatal delirium.^ In the course of a short 
time, and in many cases at the very commencement, the stinking 
sweat broke out in streams over the whole body, either proving 
salutary when life w^as able to obtain the mastery over the dis- 
ease, or prejudicial when it was subdued by it — as is the case in 
ever}^ ineffectual effort of nature to produce a cure. And in this 
respect, as in diseases of less importance, great differences ap- 
peared according to the constitution of the patient ; for some 
perspired very easily, others, on the contrary, with great difficulty, 
especially the phlegmatic, who, in consequence, were threatened 
with the greatest danger.^ 

In this severe struggle the spinal marrow was sometimes, at a 
later stage, so much affected, that even convulsions came on ; and 
it happened not unfrequently, that, in consequence of the con- 
striction of the chest, the stomach indicated its excited condition 
by nausea and vomiting? These symptoms, however, manifested 

' Schiller, Stealer. 

- Somnolentia et inevitabilis sopor, Schiller ; a deep sleep, in almost all the 

3 Schiller. 

* " Aliis mox tument mantis et pedes, aliis facies, qnse et in pluribus livet ; nonnul- 
lis sola labia et superciliorum loca : mulieribus etiara inguina inflantur." — Daniian. 
fol. 116. a. 

5 " Maxiraus denique calor baud procid a corde sentitui-, qui ad cerebrum devolans 
delirium adducit, intcrnecionis nunciura." — Damian. loc. cit. 

^ Damia7i. loc. cit. 

' Schiller, loc. cit. 


tliemselves principally in those wlio were attacked with the dis- 
ease upon a full stomach. 

Such is the testimony of the contemporary writers of 1529, to 
whose accounts but little is added by Kaye, an English eye-wit- 
ness of the epidemic Sweating Sickness of 1551. The observa- 
tions of this perfectly trustworth}^ physician, so far as they relate 
to the form of the disorder, may be here annexed, since no essen- 
tial differences between the diseases on these two occasions can be 
discovered. At the first onset the diseases in some attacked the 
neck or shoulders, and in others one leg or one arm, with drag- 
ging pains ; ^ others felt at the same time a warm glow that 
spread itself over the limbs, ioimediately after which, without 
any visible cause, the perspiration broke out accompanied by 
constant and increasing heat of the inward parts, gradually ex- 
tending towards the surface. The patients suffered from a very 
quick and irritable pulse "- and great thirst, and threw themselves 
about in the utmost restlessness. Under the violent headache 
which they suffered, they frequently fell into a talkative state of 
wandering, yet this did not generally happen before the ninth 
hour, and in very various gradations of mental aberration,^ after 
which the drowsiness commenced. In others the sweating was 
longer delayed, while, in the mean time, a slight rigor of the limbs 
existed : it then broke out profusely, but did not always trickle 
down the skin in equal abundance, but alternately, sometimes 
more, sometimes less. It was thick and of various colours, but 
in all cases of a very disagreeable odour,* which, when it broke 
out again, after any interruption to its flow, was still more pene- 

Kaye adds to what we already know of the oppression of the 
chestj the very important statement that those affected were ob- 
served to have a whining, sighing voice, whence we have every 
reason to conclude that there was a serious affection of the 
eighth pair of nerves. He, moreover, describes a very mild form 

^ " Primo insultu aliis cervices aut scapulas, aliis crus aut brachiuni occupavit," p. 15. 
Kaye dioes not state what he precisely means by this "occupare." From an analo- 
gous more modern observation, it appears, however, that by it are meant tearing 
rheumatic pains. " Add to this, that the patients complained one and all, some more 
some less, of a tearing pain in the neck." Sinner, p. 10. 

~ Pulsus concitatior, frequentior. The only remark upon the pulse which is to be 
found in aU the writers. Cuius, p. 16. Probably most of the physicians were afraid 
of contagion, and on this account omitted to examine the pulse. 

3 Page 252. 

* Odoris teterrimi. Tyengius in Forest, p. 158. 

^ Neivenar, fol. 72. b. 


of tlie disease, sucli as was prevalent in the soutli of Germany 
in 1529. It passed off under proper care, without any danger, 
in the very short period of fifteen hours, and was brought to a 
termination by moderate heat through the medium of a very 
gentle perspiration/ 

It is remarkable that during this violent disorder neither the 
activity of the kidneys nor the evacuation hy stool loas entirely 
interrupted, for there passed continuallj^ turbid and dark urine, 
although, as may be conceived, in small quantity and with great 
uncertainty as to the prognosis ; whereupon those physicians who 
judged by the urine were not a little perplexed.^ It was observed, 
too, sometimes in the more easily curable cases, that patierits at the 
moment ivhen the perspiration hroke out upon them passed urine 
in great quantity,^ on which account a French physician proposed 
to draw off the water in those who suflPered from this disease ; * yet 
this practice has no higher therapeutical worth than the excite- 
ment of perspiration in diabetes or in cholera, and is, moreover, 
much less practicable. That occasionally diarrhoea supervened, 
and even to a degree which was not to be restrained, may be 
gathered from the frequent medical directions as to how it ought 
to be arrested, which Kaye also repeats.^ In some patients, like- 
wise, nature appears to have effected a simultaneous crisis by 
the skin, the kidneys, and the bowels. 

Much more important, however, is the observation of a re- 
spectable Dutch physician, that after the ji^'^'spiration was over 
there appeared on the limbs small vesicles,^ which were not t;on- 
fluent, but rendered the skin uneven, and these were not noticed 
by any other medical observer, but are spoken of by the author 
of an old Hamburgh chronicle, and, with this addition, that they 
have been seen on the dead.^ By these it is very likely that a 

^ Page 190. 2 Schiller, Kaye, loc. cit. 

^ " cum alvi solutione ac lotii baud modica eiectione, in ea morbi specie, quae 

curatum itura est." Damian. fol. 116. a. 

* Rondelet, de dignosc. morbis, loc. cit. 

5 To avoid exposure to cold, tliey preferred allowing tbe patient to pass his eva- 
cuations in bed. Bed-pans were unknown. Kaye, p. 110, and most of tbe other 

^ Tyengius in Forest, p. 158. b. "Febrem sudor finiebat, post se rclinquens in 
extremitatibus corpoi'is, pustulas jiarvas, admodum exasperantes divcrsas et malignas 
secundum bumorum malignitatem." 

' When care was not taken that the hands and feet were kept under the clothes they 
died, and their bodies became as black as a coal all over, and -were covered with 
vesicles, and stunk so, that it was necessary to bury them deep in the earth by reason 
of the stench. Staphorsf, Part II. Vol. I. p. 83. 


miliary eruption, and perhaps spots also, are to be understood ; 
yet everything militates against the supposition that this pheno- 
menon was constant, or that the Sweating Fever was an eruptive 
disorder.' For in that case, some mention would have been 
made of it in the numerous accounts of historians, many of whom, 
doubtless, had themselves seen the disease, and the eruptions 
would have been more evidently and decidedly formed in the 
numerous relapses of those who recovered. They certainly in- 
dicate a relationship with the miliary fever, but only in so far as 
that both diseases are of rheumatic origin, and this slight par- 
ticipation in the nature of an eruptive disease would seem to have 
been observed in the English Sweating Sickness only in perfect- 
ly isolated cases. What would have taken place under such 
an indication had the Sweating Sickness run a longer course, 
whether, in fact, it might not possibly have passed into a regular 
miliary fever, is a question unsolved by the past, since even later 
transitions of this kind have never been observed. The two dis- 
eases are, both in their course and their nature, perfectly distinct 
from each other, and the miliary fever was not developed as an 
independent epidemic until the following century, under circum- 
stances altogether different, and its more decided precursors are 
not to be discovered until a period posterior to the five eruptions 
of the Sweating Sickness, 

The powers of the constitution were much shaken by the Sweat- 
ing Sickness, so that a rapid recovery was observed to take place 
only in the mildest form of this disease. Those, howevei% whom 
it attacked more severely, remained very "feeble and powerless for 
at least a week, and their restoration was but gradual, and effected 
only by great care and strengthening diet. After the perspira- 
tion had passed off, the patient was taken carefully from his bed, 
cautiously dried in a warm chamber, placed by the fireside, and, as 
a first restorative, usually fed with k^^ "soup, yet the generality 
could not entirely get over the effects of the fever for a long time. 
Those who had recovered could seldom go out so early as the 
second or third day.^ 

' Spots (maculae quas ronchas (?) vocant), which ■were on other occasions considered 
as signs of approaching death, or which did not come out until death had occurred, 
broke out, after a return of sweating which had been repressed, all over the body of 
the learned Margaretha Roper, the eldest daughter of Thomas llore, who was the 
subject of sweating fever in 1517 or 1528, and recovered. Th. Stapleton, Vita et 
obitus ThomEE Mori, c. 6. p. 26. See Wlori Opera. 

- And certainly only after very appropriate and careful treatment. See the "Witten- 
berg Eegimen, Kaye, loc. cit. Schmidt, p. 307, and Klemzen, p. 256. 


Those patients were placed in still greater danger m ivliom the 
perspiration teas in any way suppressed : most of tliem were con- 
signed to inevitable death (the popular voice ever since the year 
1485 confirms this). Over those, however, in whom the powers 
of life were roused to a renewed effort, there broke out, after a 
short period, a new perspiration far more offensive than the first ; 
so that the body dripped as it were with a foul fluid, and it seemed 
as if the inward parts wanted to disburthen themselves at once of 
their putridity by an immoderate effort.^ It is clear that this re- 
petition of the attack must have been destructive to many who, 
had it not been for an obstruction of the crisis, would have been 
saved ; for nothing is more dangerous in inflammatory diseases 
than when those secretions are interrupted which Nature has 
ordained as the only means of relief. 

Relapses were frequent, because convalescents, after the disease 
was subdued, remained for a long time very excitable. These 
were seen for the third and fourth time seized loith the Sweating 
Sickness^^ nay, later writers notice a repetition of the disease even to 
the twelfth time,^ whereby at least the health was completely shat- 
tered, for dropsy or some other destructive sequela) supervened, 
until death put a period to incurable sufferings, and it is important 
to observe that even the bowels participated in the great excitabi- 
lit}^ of the system, for too early an exposure to the air easily brought 
on diarrhoea} 

How great the decomposition of the organic matter was is con- 
vincingly proved from all the testimony hitherto adduced, but it 
might have been inferred from the very rapid putrefaction of the 
body, which rendered it necessary everywhere to use the greatest 
despatch in the performance of burials \^ and fortunately did away 
with all fear of being buried alive. Of post mortem examinations 
we have no information, and even if they could have been insti- 
tuted, they would, from the manner of conducting researches in 
those times, scarcely have thrown any important light on the dis- 
ease. Hardly any physicians but those who had studied in Italy 
knew the inward structure of the body from their own observation, 
superficial as it was ; the rest learned it only from Galenic 
manuals; how could they with such slender knowledge have dis- 

1 Neicenar, fol. 72. b. 

2 Erasm. Epist. L. XXVI. Ep. 58. p. 1477. l>. " Et crebroquos reliquit brevi iuter- 
vallo repetciis, nee id semel, sed bis, ter, quater, donee in bydropem aiit aliud niorbi 
genus versus, tandem extingiiat niiseris excarnificatum modis." 

3 Kaye, p. 110. i Idem. p. 113. 
5 Staphorst, Part IJ. Vol. I. p. 83. 


tinguished between healthy and diseased parts ? Moreover, the 
Sweating Sickness could not in so short a period cause such a pal- 
pable and substantial destruction of the viscera as they would 
alone have sought for. Details respecting the condition of the 
blood in the dead body, which after such an enormous loss of 
watery fluid, such severe oppression at the chest, and so great an 
impediment to the function of respiration, would in all probability 
be thickened and darkened in colour, as well as respecting the 
condition of the lungs and of the heart, it would be highly de- 
sirable to obtain ; but these likewise are wanting altogether, and 
after the lapse of so long a period there only remains room for con- 

The observation was repeated in Germany which had been so 
frequently made since the year 1485, that the middle period of 
life was especially exposed to the Sweating Fever. Children, on 
the contrary, remained almost entirely exempt from this disease, 
and when the aged were affected by it, it was as individual ex- 
ceptions to a general rule,' and this, as it would appear, only 
during the height of the epidemic ; as for example at Zwickau, 
where a woman of 112 years of age was carried off by it.^ "VYe 
have already in part discovered the cause of this perfectly constant 
phenomenon in the luxurious mode of living of robust young men, 
and if we look back to the moral condition of the Germans in the 
16th century, we find among them the same immoderate luxury 
as among the English, the same drunkenness, the same intemper- 
ance at their frequent banquets, where the wine-cups and beer -jugs 
were emptied with but too eager draughts ; finally, also, the same 
relaxation of skin consequent upon the use of warm baths and 
warm clothing. All contemporary writers mention these circum- 
stances,^ and our bold forefathers, with respect to these matters, 
were not in the best repute with their southern neighbours. 

But we have, moreover, to survey the disease in another point 
of view, namely, in relation to its peculiar character. In the out- 
set we designated the Sweating Sickness as a 7'hemnatic fever, and 
if we take the notion of a rheumatic afiection, as in propriety we 
ought, in its widest acceptation, weighty and convincing grounds 

1 " Immunes erant pueri et senes ab hoc malo." Ditmar, p. 473. " Pueri infra 
decern annos rarissime liac febre corripiuntur." Newenar, fol. 72. a. " Scnibus solis 
quandoque pepercit, — pricternavigavit etiam magna ex parte atrabilarios et emaciatos 
corpore, quoniam et borum corpora putris succi expertia erant." Sddller, fol. 4. a. 

2 ScJitnidt, p. 307. 

3 As for instance, Schiller, to name but one among thousands. " Juvit etiam aux - 
itque malum frequens multaque crapula, et in potationibus otiosa vita nostra," fol. 3. b. 


have been adduced in the course of our whole inquiry in confirma- 
tion of this view. When we observe that those very nations were 
visited b}^ the Sweating Fever, which are characterised by a fair 
skin, blue eyes, and Kght hair — the marks of the German race, it 
may with justice be assumed, that even this peculiarity in the 
structure of the body rendered it susceptible of this extraordinary 
disease. It is this which causes the proneness to fluxes of all 
kinds, and which makes these diseases endemic in the north of 
Europe, whilst the dark-haired southern nations and the blacks in 
the tropical climates remain, under similar circumstances,' more 
free from them. If it be remembered further how overcharged 
with water were the lower strata of the atmosphere in which the 
pestilent Sweating Fevers existed, what thick and even offensive 
mists prepared the way for the disease and indicated its approach, 
what rapid alternations of freezing cold and excessive heat took 
place in the summer of 1529 ; and, moreover, how frequent all 
kinds of fluxes were in this very year, the complete form of the 
rheumatic constitution will be recognised in every individual 

Did we possess in the showy systems of modern times a maturer 
knowledo-e of the electricitv of livins? bodies, much light would of 
necessity hence be thrown on the great object of our research. 
We should not then be compelled to rest satisfied with the fact 
that a cloudy atmosphere abstracts electricit}^ from the body, robs 
the skin and lungs of their electrical atmosphere, disturbs their 
mutual electrical relation with the external world, and by this 
disturbance prepares the body for rheumatic indisposition, with all 
that peculiar decomposition of the fluids, irritable tension of the 
nerves, fever, and painful afiection of particular parts, with which 
it is accompanied. If this disturbance be represented according 
to certain new and inviting hypotheses, supported by some im- 
portant facts,- as being perhaps an accumulation of electricity in 

' Let it be observed under similar circumstances. It ought not to be affirmed that 
they are free fi-om rheumatic diseases, but only that they are less disposed to be affected 
by them. 

2 That a rheumatic state makes the body an isolator, A. von. Humboldt discovered 
as early as 1793, and he found that the observation was confirmed by subsequent expe- 
riments. " I have observed in myself that, when labouring under a severe attack of 
catarrhal fever, I -was unable, by the most powerful metals, to excite the galvanic tiash 
before my eyes ; that I interrupted every connecting link between the muscular and 
nervous apparatus. As the rheumatic malady lessens the irritability of organs, so also 
it seems to diminish their conducting power. How is this .' As yet nothing is known 
about it. I have every now and then met with isolating persons who were in perfect 
health, but can we not yet, amidst such an ocean of uncertainty, discover a condition 


the interior of the body, owing to a morbid, isolating activity of 
the skin, we may expect a more perfect knowledge of the nature 
of rheumatism through the medium of future diligent researches ; 
and until these be made, some evident signs of connexion between 
rheumatic affections and the English Sweating Sickness will per- 
haps be sufficient to demonstrate the rheumatic nature of this 
latter disease. 

In the first place, the very great susceptihiUty of those affected 
loitli the Sweating Fever to every change of temperature — the de- 
cidedly great danger of chill. In no known disease does this irri- 
tability of the skin show itself in so prominent a degree as in 
rheumatic fevers and in those non-febrile fluxes in which there 
even exists a very evident sensitiveness to metallic action. 

Secondly, The tendency of the rheumatic diathesis to come to a 
crisis through the medium of a profuse, sour, and offensive perspira- 
tion without any assistance from art.^ The English Sweating 
Sickness manifests this commotion of the organism in the most 
exquisite form hitherto known ; for it admits of no kind of doubt 
that the sweat in this disease was of itself, and in itself, critical, 
in the fullest acceptation of the term. 

Thirdly, The peculiar alteration in the fundamental composition 
of organic matter in rheumatic diseases, in consequence of which 
volatile acids of a strange odour are prevalent in the sweat, and 
urine, and animal excretions. The English Sweating Sickness 
exhibits also this result of morbid activity in a greater and more 
striking manner than any other disease. Nor can we regard the 
tendency to putridity, which has been observed, as anything but 
an increased degree of this condition. 

Fourthly, The shooting p>ains in the limbs, the most decided sign 
of rheumatism, were not wanting in the English Sweating Sick- 
ness ; nay, they became developed even to the extent of an in- 
cipient paralysis, and even the convulsions of those affected with 
this disease may not unjustly be attributed to the same source. 

Fifthly, The tendency of rheumatism lohen it takes an unfavour- 
able course to pass into regular dropsy, which is a consequence of 
the peculiar decomposition, manifested itself in the Sweating Fever 
in so marked a manner that the dropsy itself gradually destroj^ed 
the patient. 

by wHch we may determine every case?" Versuche in Vol. I. p. 159. Pfajfhe- 
lieres that, during the existence of rheumatic diseases, the proper electricity of the body 
sinks do'wn to nothing. See his Essay on the peculiar Electricity of the Human Body 
-in Meckel's Archiv. Vol. III. Xo. 2. p. 161. 

' The author has at times made extraordinary experiments of this kind u]3on himself. 


Should the sceptical still need another link in the comparison, 
we may adduce the miliary fever, a disease of decidedly rheumatic 
character. We must not, however, take as our standard the de- 
generate forms of miliary fever existing in modern times, but 
those grand and fully developed forms of the disease which oc- 
curred in the 17th and 18th centuries, and in which we find a 
similar odour in the perspiration, the same oppression, and the 
same inexpressible anguish, with palpitation and restlessness. 
The arms became enfeebled as if seized with paralysis, violent 
pains of the limbs set in, and unpleasant pricking sensations in the 
fingers and toes, resembling in all these particvdars the Sweating 
Sickness, only pursuing a more lengthened and irregular course, 
and becoming developed altogether in a difierent manner. 

According to this representation, the English Sweating Sickness 
appears as a rheumatic fever in the most exquisite form that has 
ever yet been seen in the world, violently affecting the vitality of 
the brain and spinal marrow with their nerves, without, however, 
at all molesting the plexuses of the abdomen. The immoderate 
excretion of xoatcry fluid, which in the mild cases alone took place, 
through a spontaneous curative power, while in the malignant 
forms it betokened paralysis of the vessels and an actual colliqua- 
tion, directs our attention further to the consequent state of inani- 
tion, which very probably passed into a stagnation of the circula- 
tion, in the same manner as takes place after every other sudden 
loss of the fluids, whether from sanguineous eflusion or evacuations 
by vomit and stool. Hence the uncommonly rapid course of the 
disease, and partly, too, the fatal stupor ; ^ hence, likewise, the 
very pardonable misconception with respect to the nature of the 
Sweating Fever existing even in more modern times. The sequela 
was more important and more fatal than the original rheumatic 
affection itself, which in its minor forms was mild and easily 

And thus is explained the wonderfully fortunate result of the 
old English treatment, which prevented this sequela, and avoided 
increasing the already too powerful efforts of nature to effect a 
cure. We have, therefore, nothing further to add to this judicious 
and truly scientific practice but our unqualified approbation ; for 
it IS the part of the phgsivian, in diseases which have a spontaneous 
liower of curing themselccs, to leave this power free scope to act, 

1 This phenomenon may justly be compared with the very similar but more enduring 
morbid sequelae of cholera. Paralysis and a repletion of the returning vessels must be 
regarded in the same lio'ht in both. 


and merely by fostering care to remove all obstacles to Us exercise. 
Should it be the destiny of mankind to be again visited by the 
disease of the sixteenth century (and it is by no means impossible 
that at some time or other similar events may recur), we would 
recommend our posterity to bear in mind this eternal truth, and 
to treasure up the golden words of the Wittenberg pamphlet, 
namely, to guard the healing art from strange and unnatural 
farragos, /or it is only ivhenit is snhordinate to nature that it bears 
the stamp of reason— the mistress of all earthly things. 



"Ubique lugiibris erat lamontatio, fletus masrens, acerbus luctus."— Kate. 

Sect. 1. — Ikeuptiox. 

Full three and twenty years had now elapsed ; no trace of the 
Sweating Sickness had shown itself anywhere in this long in- 
terval, and England had by its rapid advancement assumed quite 
another aspect,^ when the old enemy of that people again, and for 
the last time, burst forth in Shrewsbury, the capital of Shrop- 
shire.^ Here, during the spring, there arose impenetrable fogs 
from the banks of the Severn, which, from their unusually bad 
odour, led to a fear of their injurious consequences.^ It was not 
long before the Sweating Sickness suddenly broke out on the 15th 
of April. To many it was entirely unknown or but obscurely 
recollected ; for, amidst the commotions of Henry's reign, the old 
malady had long since been forgotten. 

The visitation was so very general in Shrewsbury and the 
places in its neighbourhood, that every one must have believed 
that the atmosphere was poisoned, for no caution availed, no 
closing of the doors and windows, every individual dwelling be- 
came an hospital, and the aged and the young, who could con- 
tribute nothing towards the care of their relatives, alone re- 
mained unaffected by the pestilence.^ The disease came as 
unexpectedly and as completely without all warning as it had ever 

' After Henry Vlllth's death in 1547, Edward VI., who was only nine years old, 
came to the throne. He died in 1553. 

2 Cahis, p. 2. 3 Ibid. p. 28. 

1 Godicyn, p. 142. Stoic, p. 1023. 


done on former occasions ; at table, during sleep, on journeys, 
in the midst of amusement, and at all times of the day ; and so 
little had it lost of its old malignity, that in a few hours it sum- 
moned some of its victims from the ranks of the living, and even 
destroyed others in less than one.^ Four and twenty hours, 
neither more nor less, were decisive as to the event ; the disease 
had thus undergone no change. 

In proportion as the pestilence increased in its baneful violence, 
the condition of the people became more and more miserable and 
forlorn ; the townspeople fled to the country, the peasants to the 
towns ; some sought lonely places of refuge, others shut them- 
selves up in their houses. Ireland and Scotland received crowds 
of the fugitives. Others embarked for France or the Nether- 
lands ; but security was nowhere to be found ; so that people at 
last resigned themselves to that fate which had so long and 
heavily oppressed the country. Women ran about negligently clad, 
as if they had lost their senses, and filled the streets with lament- 
ations and loud prayers ; all business was at a stand ; no one 
thought of his daily occupations, and the funeral bells tolled day 
and night, as if all the living ought to be reminded of their near 
and inevitable end.^ There died, within a few days, nine hun- 
dred and sixty of the inhabitants of Shrewsbuiy, the greater part 
of them robust men and heads of families ; from which circum- 
stance we may judge of the profound sorrow that was felt in this 

Sect. 2. — Extension and Duration. 

The epidemic spread itself rapidly over all England, as far as 
the Scottish borders, and on all sides to the sea-coasts, under more 
extraordinary and memorable phenomena than had been observed 
in almost any other epidemic. In fact, it seemed that the hanks 
of the Severn loere the focus of the malady, and that from hence, 
a true impestation of the atmosphere was diffused in every direc- 
tion. "Whithersoever the winds wafted the stinking mist, the in- 
habitants became infected with the Sweating Sickness, and, more 
or less, the same scenes of horror and of affliction which had oc- 
curred in Shrewsbury were repeated. These poisonous clouds of 
mist were observed moving from place to place, with the disease 
in their train, affecting one town after another, and morning and 
evening spreading their nauseating insufferable stench.^ At 

' Cains, p. 3. 2 HjiJ. p. 7_ 

•'' " Which miste in the coimtrie wher it hegan, was scnc flic from tounc to toune, 


greater distances, these clouds, being dispersed by the wind, be- 
came gradually attenuated, yet their dispersion set no bounds to 
the pestilence, and it was as if they had imparted to the lower 
strata of the atmosphere a kind of ferment which went on en- 
gendering itself, even without the presence of the thick misty 
vapour, and being received into men's lungs, produced the fright- 
ful disease everywhere.' Noxious exhalations from dung-pits, 
stagnant waters, swamps, impure canals, and the odour of foul 
rushes, which were in general use in the dwellings in England, 
together with all kinds of offensive rubbish, seemed not a little to 
contribute to it; and it was remarked universally, that wherever 
such offensive odours prevailed, the Sweating Sickness appeared 
more malignant.^ It is a known fact, that in a certain state of 
the atmosphere, which is perhaps principally dependent on elec- 
trical conditions and the degree of heat, mephitic odours exhale 
more easily and powerfully. To the quality of the air at that 
time prevalent in England, this peculiarity may certainly be at- 
tributed, although it must be confessed, that upon this point there 
are no accurate data to be discovered. 

The disease lasted upon the whole almost half a year, namely, 
from the \5th of April to the 30th of September ; ^ it thus passed 
but gradually from place to place, and we do not observe here, 
that it spread with that rapidity which, in the autumn of 1529, 
had excited such great wonder in Germany. It is much to bo 
regretted, that contemporary writers either gave no intelligence 
respecting the irruption or course of the epidemic Sweating Sick- 
ness in individual towns, or, if they did so, that this has not been 
made use of by subsequent writers. Doubtless, a very con- 
siderable diversity of circumstances would here present them- 
selves, and the very peculiar manner in which the corruption of 
the atmosphere spread on this occasion, might perhaps have been 
estimated from certain facts, and not from mere suppositions. 
Thus the only fact that has been handed down is very remark- 
able ; namely, that the Sweating Sickness required a whole 
quarter of a year to traverse the short distance from Shrewsbury 

■with suclie a stincke in mominges and evenings, that men could scarcely abide it." — • 
Kaye. See Appendix, also Lat. edit. pp. 28, 29. It is to be remarked here, that in 
the year 1529, Damianus observed in Ghent, that more people sickened in the morning 
at sun-rise than at any other time. p. 115. b. 

' Hosack admits in cases of this kind, a '■'■fermentative or assimilati7ig process" in 
the atmosphere. T. 1. p. 312. Laws of Contagion. Lucretius had already expressed 
the same thought in poetry. L. YI. v. 1118. to 1123. 

2 Caius, p. 29. 3 i^id. pp. 2—8. 


to London ; for it did not break out there until the 9tli of July, 
and in a few days, according to its former mode, reached its 
height, so that the rapid increase of deaths excited terror through- 
out the whole city.^ Yet the mortality was considerably less than 
at Shrewsbury, for there died in the whole of the first week only 
eight hundred inhabitants,^ and we may consider it decided, al- 
though all the contemporaries are silent on this very essential 
question, that the pestilence nowhere lasted longer than fifteen 
days, and perhaps in most places, as formerl}^ o^^V ^^^ ^^ ^^■^• 

The deaths throughout the kingdom were very numerous, so that 
one historian actually calls it a depopulation,^ No rank of life 
remained exempt, but the Sweating Sickness raged with equal 
violence in the foul huts of the poor and in the palaces of the no- 
bility.'* The piety which, in the general dejection, was displayed 
by the whole nation, giving birth to innumerable works of Chris- 
tian benevolence and philanthropy, whereby undoubtedly many 
tears were dried up — many orphans and widows protected from 
distress and want, is hence explained : for this phenomenon, high- 
ly delightful as it is in itself, occurs only under great afflictions 
and a general fear of death, as we are taught by the universal his- 
tory of epidemics. We are willing to believe, to the honour of 
the English, that the religious impulse which the}' derived from 
their ecclesiastical reformation, may have had no small share in 
its production ; yet, unfortunately, such is the nature of human 
society, that no sooner is the calamity over, than virtue relaxes. 
Scarcely were the funeral obsequies performed, when everything 
returned to the usual routine;' in like manner, the Byzantines 
once, during a great earthquake, were seized with a fear of God, 
such as they had never before felt ; day and night they flocked to 
the churches ; nothing was to be seen but Christian virtue, self- 
denial, and works of benevolence, but these only lasted until the 
earth again became firm.'' 

The very remarkable observation was made in this year, that 
the Sweating Sick/iess imifovmly apared foreigners in England, and, 
on the other hand, followed the English into foreign eomitries, so 
that those who were in the Netherlands and France, and even in 

1 Ilolinshed, p. 1031, ami others. 2 stoic, p. 1023. Baker, p. 332. 

3 Gochcyji, p. 142. 

^ Among others, the Duke of Suffolk and his bi'other. Godipyn, loc. cit. 

5 "And the same being whote and terrible, inforced the people greatly to call upon 
God and to do many deedes of charity : but as the disease ceased, so the devotion quickly 
decayed." Grafton, p. 525. 

6 Hi.tory of Medicine, Vol. II. p. 136. 


Spain, were carried off in no inconsiderable numbers by their in- 
digenous pestilence, whicli was nowhere caught by the natives. 

Not a single French inhabitant ^ of the neighbouring town of 
Calais was affected, and neither the Scotch inhabitants of the 
same island, nor the Irish, were visited by the Sweating Sickness, 
so that we cannot get rid of the notion, that there was some 
peculiarity in the whole constitution of the English which render- 
ed them exclusively susceptible of this disease. To make this out 
accurately would be so much the more difficult, because, in the 
original year of the Sweating Sickness, foreigners were the .very 
persons among whom the English disease first broke out ; and 
again, because English persons who had lived a year in France, 
on their return home in the summer of 1551, became the subjects 
of Sweating Sickness.^ Contemporaries, indeed, find a cause in 
the gluttony and rude mode of life of the English. In short, in 
all those remote causes with which we have already become ac- 
quainted, and which, doubtless, also had their part in preparing 
the same scourge for the Germans and Flemings in 1529. Kaye, 
the most efficient eye-witness, even brings in proof of this view, 
that the temperate in England remained exempt from the Sweat- 
ing Sickness, and on the contrary, that some Frenchmen at Calais, 
who were too much devoted to English manners, were seized with 
it.^ To this alone, however, this susceptibility cannot be at- 
tributed, unless we would be content with the antiquated system 
of giving too much weight to remote causes, opposed to which we 
are met by the striking fact, that the Grermans and Netherlands, 
who had scarcely much improved in their manners since 1529, 
were not again visited by their old enemy. 

Sect. 3. — Causes. — Natural Phenomena. 

It is easy to perceive, or rather we have no alternative but to 
suppose, an unknown something in the English atmosphere, which 
imparted to the inhabitants the rheumatic diathesis, or, if we will, 

' Caius, 'p. so, and at other places quoted. "And it so folowed the Englishmen, 
that such marchants of England, as were in Flaunders and Spaine, and other countries 
beyond the sea, were visited therewithall, and none other nation infected there^vith." 
Grafton, loc. cit. Compare, Baker, p. 332. Holinshed, p. 1031. 

2 Caius, p. 48. 

3 See Appendix, "these thre contryes (England, the Netherlands, and Germany) 
whiche destroy more meates and drynckes without al order, convenient time, reason, or 
necessitie then either Scotlande, or all other countries under the sunne, to the _great 
annoiance of their owne bodies and wittes," &c. Compare p. 46 of the Lat. edit. 



80 penetrated their bodies, overcharged as they were with crude 
juices,' that their constitutions had the so-called opportunitij , that 
is, were changed in such a manner as to fit them for the reception 
of the Sweating Sickness. Under such a condition, the common 
and more peculiar causes of this disease were not absolutely 
necessary, in order to induce its attack in a constitution thus long 
prepared for it, but the general causes of disease were sufficient of 
themselves to give it its last stimulus, although this should be in 
an entirely different climate, as in the present instance was the 
case with the English who were living in Spain, and with the 
Venetian ambassador Naugerio, who, in the year 1528, fell ill of 
the petechial fever, when far from Italy, and living in France.^ 

It has, no doubt, struck the reader that each of the five erup- 
tions in England lasted much longer than the single one which 
occurred in Germany and the north of Europe. This, too, might 
well depend upon peculiarities in the English soil. But let us 
now endeavour to render manifest, by means of phenomena ac- 
tually observed, that unknown something in the atmosphere of 
1551, the deior of the great Hippocrates, which announces its pre- 
sence by the sickening of the people ; for beyond this it is not 
granted that human researches should penetrate. The winter of 
1550-51 was dry and warm in England ; the spring dry and cold; 
the summer and autumn hot and moist.^ The weather of the 
whole year was uncommon in many particulars, without, however, 
influencing the lives of plants and animals so much or through so 
great a range as at the time of the fourth epidemic Sweating 
Sickness. It was even in some places praised as fruitful.* On the 
10th of January a violent tempest occurred, which in Germany 
left no small traces ^ of its effects on houses and towers. The same 
day brought considerable floods in the river district of the Lahn, 
which must be noticed on account of the very unusual season of the 
year.^' On the 13th of January, again at an unusual season, there 
followed a great storm with heavy rains," which spread over the 
north of Germany ; and on the 28th of January there occurred a 
considerable earthquake in Lisbon, whereby about two hundred 
houses were overthrown, and nearly a thousand people were de- 

^ Godwyn, loc. cit., expressly assures us, that gluttons "who ■were taken ■with the 
disease when their stomachs were full, fell victims to it ; and Kaye states that besides 
aged pci-sons and children, the poor, who from necessity lived frugally, and endured 
hardships, either remained free, or bore the disease more easily, p. 51. 

^ See above, p. 215. 3 Caius. See Appendix. 

* Schwelin, p. 177. s Spangenberg, fol. 463. a. 

^ Chron. Chron. p. 401. - Ibid, and Spangenbcrg, loc. cit. 


stroyed ; whilst a fiery meteor appeared, which, according to the 
unsatisfactory descriptions of the time, resembled most a northern 
light, and therefore was, in all probability, of electrical origin.' 
This was succeeded in Germany by a great frost in February.^ 
On the 21st of March, at seven o'clock in the morning, two mock 
suns, with three rainbows, were seen at Magdeburg and in its 
vicinity, and in the evening two mock moons.^ The same mock 
suns were also observed at Wittenberg, but without the rainbows. 
A similar phenomenon with two rainbows was again seen on the 
27th of March ; * and mock suns had been observed at Antwerp 
as early as the 28th of February.'^ About the same time (21st of 
March) the Oder overflowed its banks,^ and floods followed after 
continued rains during the month of May in Thuringia and Fran- 
conia.^ Great tempests were not wanting,^ and, after consider- 
able heat, there occurred, on the 26th of June, a thick summer 
fog in the districts of the Elbe, which deprived the besiegers of 
Magdeburg of the sight of that city. It may, therefore, be sup- 
posed that this phenomenon took place throughout a greater ex- 
tent of country.^ On the 22nd of September a meteor, like a 
northern light, was again seen, and on the 29th of that month, 
after some clear weather, a heavy fall of snow was followed by 
continued cold.^" 

These facts are sufficient plainly to prove that the course of the 
year 1551 was unusual, that the atmosphere was overcharged 
with water, and that the electrical conditions of it were consider- 
ably disturbed ; nor must we omit to notice that, for the first time 
since 1547, mould spots again appeared in Germany on clothes, 
and red discolorations of water, as likewise an exuberance of the 
lowest cryptogamic species of vegetation.' ' 

1 Chron. Chron. loc. cit. - Spangenberg, fol. 463. b. 

3 Angeliis, p. 344. Spangenherg^ fol. 464. a. Chron. Chron. p. 401. 

* Spangenherg , fol. 464. a. ^ Chron. Chron. p. 402. 

« Haftitz, p. 167. Angelus, p. 344. 

' Chron. Chron. p. 403. Leuthinger, p. 248. s Angelas, loc. cit. 

5 Spangenberg^ fol. 465. a. Magdeburg ■v\'as besieged at this time for having refused 
to accept the "Interim." 

'0 Wicrsfisen, p. 624. Spangenberg, fol. 466. a. 

" In the March of Brandenburg, crosses, as they were called, were seen upon clothes 
in the year 1547 {Leuihinger, p. 216) ; red water was seen at Zorbig, in the year 1549 
(Ibid. p. 231), and frequently likewise in the year 1551. (Chron. Chron. p. 402.) 
Agricola seems to point to these connected phenomena in the passage already quoted ; 
see p. 191, note *. 



Sect, 4. — Diseases. 

During the years of scarcity, from 1528 to 1534, it excited 
general surprise that malignant fevers, more especially the plague, 
petechial fever, and encephalitis, which in the individual accounts 
we can seldom sufficient!}^ distinguish from each other, were con- 
stantly recurring, and, ci'eeping slowly as they did from place to 
place, had no sooner finished their wandering visitations of whole 
districts of country, than they again made their appearance where 
they had broken out in former years, ^ It was a century of putrid 
malignant affections, in which typhous diseases were continually 
prevailing — a century replete with grand phenomena affecting 
human life in general, and continuing so, long after the period to 
which our researches refer. 

There existed also an epidemic flux, which, during a cold sum- 
mer^ in 1538, spread over a great part of Europe, and especially 
over France, so that, according to the assurance of an eminent 
physician, there was scarcely any town exempt from it.^ Of this 
flux we have unfortunately but very defective reports, among 
which we flnd a statement, not without importance, that there 
were no extraordinary forerunners, such as are observed in phe- 
nomena of this kind, to account for this epidemic."* Two yenxs 
earlier, however, (12th of July 1536,) Erasmus died of the flux,'^ 
This disease seldom occurs sporadically, but usually as an epi- 
demic, and thus, perhaps, slighter visitations of this rheumatic 
malady may be assumed to have preceded that greater one which 
took place in 1538, 

A period remarkable for plague followed in the year 1540, and 
ended about 1543. The summer of the first-named year is espe- 
cially mentioned in the chronicles as having been hot, and 
throughout the whole century it continued to be in great repute 
on account of the excellent wine it produced.*' A spontaneous 

' " Pestis insuper in certis sseviebat Germanise provinciis (1533), praesertim Nuren- 
bergse et Babenbergas, et Aollis oppidisque per girum. Et est stupenda res, quod haec 
plaga nunquam totaliter cessat, sed omiii anno reguat, jam hie, nunc alibi, de loco in 
locum, de provincia in pro\'inciam migrando, et si recedit aliquamdiu, tamen post paucos 
annos et cireuitum revertitur, et juventutem interim natam in ipso flore pro parte 
majore amputat." — Jo. Lamje, Clirou. Xui-emburgens. eccles., in Mencken, T. II. 
col. 88. 

^ Spa7igenberg, fol. 369. b. ^ Fernet, de abditis rerum causis, L. IT. p. 107. 

* See Fernel. Wurstisen (p, 613), however, states that the preceding winter had 
been very warm. Thus Aph. 12. sect. III. woidd hold good. 

* Wurstisen, loo. cit, 

'^ L'annee dcs vins rostis, of the French. Steltler, p. 110. 


conflagration of the woods was frequent, and an earthquake was 
felt in Germany on the 14th of December.* Thereupon, in 1541, 
there followed in Constantinople a great plague,^ which, in the 
year 1542, spread by means of a Turkish invasion into Hungary, 
its superior importance being indicated by the presence of ac- 
companjnng phenomena, among which the swarms of locusts that 
appeared this year are especially worthy of note. They came from 
the interior of Asia, and travelled in dense masses over Europe, 
passing northward over the Elbe,^ and southward as far as Spain."* 
Kaye saw a cloud of locusts of this description in Padua ; their 
passage lasted full two hours, and they extended further than the 
eye could reach .^ The plague quickly spread in Hungary, and 
caused a similar destruction to the imperial army, which was 
fighting against the Turks under Joachim the Second, Elector of 
Brandenburg, as it had formerly caused the French before Naples.^ 
Whether this pestilence may have been the original oriental 
glandular plague, or whether we may assume that it had already 
degenerated into the Hungarian Petechial Fever, such as likewise 
broke out in the year 1566, in the camp near Koraorn, during the 
campaign of Maximilian the Second, and thence, by means of the 
disbanded lansquenets, spread in all directions,^ cannot now well 
be determined for want of ascertained facts. In the following 
year, 1543, however, this plague broke out in Germany, namely, 
in the Harz districts in the provinces of the Saale,^ and still more 
malignantly at Metz,^ yet upon the whole it did not cause any 
considerable loss of life. 

In the years 1545 and 1546 we again find the Trousse-galant 
in France. *° It proved fatal to the Duke of Orleans, second son 
of Francis the First, in the neighbourhood of Boulogne, and, ac- 
cording to the testimony of French historians, to ten thousand 
English in that fort, so that the garrison was obliged to pitch a 
camp outside the town, and the reluctant reinforcements felt that 
they were encountering certain death.** The disease spread itself 

' Spange7iberg, fol. 439. a. Chron. Chron. p. 375. 

2 Kircher^ p. 147. ^ Spangenberg, fol. 439. b. 

* Villalba, T. I. p. 93. They committed great ravages in Spain. 

5 See Appendix, and p. 25 of the Latin edition. — Compare Haftitz, p. 149, and 
others, ® Spangenberg, fol. 439. b. 

7 Jordan, Tr. I. c. 19. p. 220. ^ Spangenberg, fol. 440. b. 

9 Villalba, T. I. p. 94. The author has not been able to obtain the "Work of Sixtus 
Kepser, an observer of this disease. (Consultatio saluberrima de causis et remediis 
epidemise sive pestiferi morbi Bambergensium civitatem turn infestantis.) Bambergse, 
1544. 4to. •" See p. 219. 'i Mezeray, p. 1036. 


also among the French troops, and we have seen that it extended 
its dominion beyond the Alps of Savoy. ^ 

It thus appears that, up to the period of which we have been 
speaking, the year 1544 alone was free from great visitations of 
disease, but it would be difficult from thenceforth satisfactorily to 
define the individual groups of epidemics, if the connexion of the 
epidemic Sweating Sickness of the year 1551 with them is to be 
made out ; for there was, to use an expression of the schools, a 
continued typhous constitution, which extended throughout this 
whole period, manifesting itself on the slightest causes by malig- 
nant diseases ; so that the visitations of sickness which we have 
hitherto been describing do but appear as exacerbations of them, 
with a predominance sometimes of one and sometimes of another 
set of symptoms. 

The camp fever, which prevailed in the spring of 1547 among 
the imperial troops, there is good ground for considering to have 
been petechial. A great many soldiers fell sick of it, and it was 
so much the more malignant because the imperial army was com- 
posed of a variety of soldiery, Spaniards, Germans, Hungarians, 
and Bohemians. Those who were seized complained, as in en- 
cephalitis, of insufferable heat of the head, their eyes were swollen 
and started glistening from their sockets, their offensive breath 
poisoned the atmosphere around them, their tongues were covered 
with a brown crust, they vomited bile, their skin was of a leaden 
hue, and a deep purple eruption broke forth upon it. The disease, 
the fresh seeds of which the imperial hussars had brought with 
them out of Hungary, proved fatal as early as the second or third 
day, and it may be taken for granted, that both before and after the 
battle of Muhlberg (24th of April) it made no small ravages in 
Saxony ;2 yet it did not become general. 

After a short interval the unusual phenomena of 1549 again in- 
creased ; the chronicles of central Germany record blights and 
murrains in that year. They speak likewise of a northern light 
seen on the 21st of September, and of a malignant disease which, 
till the winter set in, carried off young people in no small numbers.^ 
According to all appearance this disease was a petechial fever, 
which in the following year, 1550, likewise visited the March of 
Brandenburg, Thuringia, and Saxony.* The mortality was par- 
ticularly great at Eisleben, where, in less than four weeks from 
the 14th of September, 257 fell a sacrifice to it, and after this 

> See p. 219. 2 Thua7i. L. lY. p. 73. 

3 Spangenberg, fol. 458. a. b., 459. a. ^ Leuthinger, p. 241. 


period it happened often that from twenty to twenty-four bodies 
were buried in one day ; so that the loss in this little town may 
be reckoned at least at 500.^ From this slight example the great 
malignity of the plagues of the sixteenth century will be perceived, 
and it w^ould be still more evident if the physicians of those times 
had made more careful observations, and historians had more ac- 
curately recorded facts of this kind. 

In 1551 there prevailed in Swabia a disease of the nature of 
jjlague, which determined the Duke Christoph, of Wiirtemburg, 
to withdraw himself from Stuttgard. It did not spread, and 
seems to have remained unknown to the rest of Germany.- In 
Spain, too, the plague ^ showed itself, and if to this be added the 
influenza of the same year,^ as well as the numerous cases of ma- 
lignant fevers in Germany and Switzerland, which were spoken of 
as still existing in the two following years,' it will again be seen 
quite evidently that the fifth epidemic Sweating Sickness appeared 
acco7npanied by a group of various epidemic diseases, which might 
he considered as resulting from general infiuences. The disease 
which is the subject of our research thus took its departure from 
Europe similarly accompanied as when it originally sprang up 
there, while in the interval it thrice repeated its deadly attacks. 

Sect. 5. — John Kaye. 

Let us dedicate a few moments to the observer of the fifth 
sweating pestilence, whose life presents a lively image of the 
peculiarities and tendencies of his age. He was born at Norwich 
on the 6th of October, 1510, and received his education at Gon- 
ville Hall, Cambridge. He had early evinced by some produc- 
tions his great knowledge of the Greek language, and his zeal 
for theological investigations. At a maturer age he went to 
Italy, at that time the seat of scientific learning, where Baptista 
Montamis and Vesalius, at Padua, initiated him in the healing 
art. He took his Doctor's degree at Bologna, and in 1542 he lec- 
tured on Aristotle in conjunction with Kealdus Columbus, with 
great approbation. The following year he travelled throughout 
Italy, and with much diligence collated manuscripts for the emen- 
dation of Galen and Celsus, attended the prselections of Mat- 

1 Spangenherg, fol. 460. a. 

2 Crushes, p. 280. 3 Villalba, T. I. p. 95. 
■* See above, p. 205. 

5 Wurstisen (1552, pestilential epidemic in Basle), p. 627. — Spangenberg, fol. 467, 
b., 468. a. (Pestilence and Phrenitis.) 


thaeus Curtius at Pisa, and then returned tlirougli France and 
Germany to his own country. 

After being admitted as a doctor of medicine at Cambridge, he 
practised with great distinction at Shrewsbury and Norwich, but 
was soon summoned by Henry the Eighth to deliver anatomical 
lectures to the surgeons in London, He was much honoured at 
the court of Edward the Sixth, and the appointment of body 
physician, which this monarch bestowed on him, he retained also 
under Queen Mary and Elizabeth. In 1547, he became a Fellow 
of the College of Physicians, over which, at a later period, he 
presided for seven years. He constantly supported the honour of 
this body with great zeal, compiled its Annals from the period of 
its foundation by Linacre to the end of his own presidentship, 
and originated an establishment, the first of the kind in Eng- 
land,^ for annually performing two public dissections of human 

That he was thus established in London before the year 1551 
is certain, yet he was present in Shrewsbury during the Sweating 
Sickness. His pamphlet " upon this disease, the first and last 
published in England, did not, however, appear before 1552, 
after all was over. It is written in strong language and a 
popular style, and with a laudable frankness ; for Kaye blames 
in it, without any reserve, the gross mode of living of his country- 
men, and does not fatigue his reader with too much book learn- 
ing, which neither he nor his contemporaries could refrain from 
displaying on other occasions. He reserved this for the Latin 
version of his pamphlet, which was published four years later,^ 
and although, judged according to a modern standard, it is far 
from being satisfactory, yet it contains an abundance of valuable 
matter, and proves its author to be a good observer ; and in this 
we can nowhere mistake that he is an Englishman of the six- 
teenth century, however numerous the terms he may borrow 
from Celsus. His doctrines are of the old Greek school through- 
out, of which the physicians of those times were staunch sup- 
porters ; hence the term ephemera ^ pestilens, his comparison of 
the disease with the similar fevers of the ancients,^ and his ac- 

^ Aikin, p. 103, et seq. ' See Appendix. 

3 1556. — This edition is very rare, and is probably not to be found in Germany. 
The edition brought out by the author (1833) is taken from a very good London 
reprint of 1721. 

■1 In the German, sometimes called "eines Tags pestilentziches Fieber." 

5 P. 15. Lat. edit. — IT. tXio^tjc, TvipwSrjr^ vSoioSijc 


curate appreciation of the important doctrine of sethereal spirits, to 
which he refers its chief causes, and, according to which, the cor- 
rupted atmosphere (spiritus corrupti) becomes mixed in the lungs 
with the spirits of blood (spiritus sanguinis), whence it at once 
appears explicable to him, why many persons may be attacked 
with the Sweating Sickness at the same time, and even in dif- 
ferent places, and why the parts of the body in which, according 
to the ancient Greek notion, the aethereal spirits developed them- 
selves, were most violently affected with this disease.^ From the 
relationship of the infected air to the sethereal spirits in the body, 
polluted by intemperance, it also appears explicable to him, why 
foreigners in England, in whom this pollution took place in a less 
degree, were, only in cases of individual exception, attacked by 
the Sweating Sickness,^ not to mention other theoretical notions. 

On malaria in general, as he was an observant naturalist, he 
was enabled to turn to good account his experience in Italy and 
his knowledge of the ancients, and his estimation of the subordin- 
ate causes, with regard to which he takes up the same position 
as Agricola, who was also a good naturalist, is likewise on the 
whole worthy of approbation.^ The immoderate use of beer, 
amongst the English, was considered by many as the principal 
reason why the Sweating Sickness was confined to this nation. 
On this subject he enlarges even to prolixity, with evident Eng- 
lish predilection for this beverage which manifestly contributed 
to the morbid repletion of the people ; and he himself acknow- 
ledged this as a principal cause of the Sweating Sickness. The 
injurious quality of salt-fish, as alleged by Erasmus and the Ger- 
man physician Hellwetter,* he would not altogether have ventured 
to reject,^ for it caused constant and abundant fetid perspira- 
tions, and might thus have contributed to pave the way for the 
Sweating Sickness. A similar source was to be found in the dirty 
rush floors in the English houses,^ and other subordinate causes 
of the diseases of which mention has been made in the course of 
this treatise. 

As a zealous advocate of temperance, it were to be wished that 
he had met with more attention ; but the words of a good physi- 
cian are given to the winds, when they are directed against vices 
and habits of sensual indulgence ; people require from him an 
infallible preservative, and not a lecture on morality. His pre- 
cepts on food and beverage are circumstantial, after the manner 

1 P. 17. seq. Lat. edit. 2 jbid. p. 49. 3 i^id. p. 31. i gee above, p. 253. 
3 P. 43. Lat. edit. « Ibid. p. 44. See above, p. 198. 


of the ancients, and he recommends such a variety, that it is 
difficult to make a choice ; while nothing but the greatest sim- 
plicity can be of any avail. Purifying fires, which were kindled 
everywhere in times of plague, are also much lauded by him, 
and we here learn incidentally, that the smiths and cooks remain- 
ed free ^ from the Sweating Sickness. Fumigations with odor- 
iferous substances of all kinds, even the most costly Indian spices, 
were everywhere employed in the houses of the rich, and no one 
stirred out without having with him some one of the thousand 
scents recommended from time immemorial during the plague. 
The medicines which he recommends are those that were then in 
vogue ; among which Theriaca, Armenian Bole, and Pearls, occur 
in various combinations, yet most of the prophylactics which he 
advises for obviating any defect in the constitution are not very 

Kaye's treatment of the Sweating Sickness is according to the 
mild old English plan, which is very judiciously and perspicuously 
laid down. He kept himself, on the whole, free from the influence 
of the schools in this instance, and the only remedy which he 
approved in case of necessity, was a harmless and very favourite 
preparation of pearls and odoriferous substances, which were call- 
ed Manus Christi,"^ or, in Germany, sugar of pearls. It had its 
origin in the fifteenth century, and was the invention of Guaine- 
rus,^ and "there were various receipts for compounding it,"* He 
also sometimes prescribed, at the commencement of the attack,^ 
bole or terra sigillata, for how could a physician of the sixteenth 
century doubt the antipoisonous effect of this overrated remedy ? 
Restlessness in the patient, debility, a too thick skin, and thick 
blood, are set forth by him as the chief impediments to the criti- 
cal sweat, and in order to remove them, he sets to work with 
great and laudable caution, ordering, according to circumstances, 
even mulled wine and greater warmth. Sometimes, too, he could 
not refrain from employing Theriac and Mithridate, but he did 
not use these remedies to any great extent. For dropsical and 
rheumatic patients who became the subjects of the Sweating Sick- 
ness, he prescribed a beverage of Guaiacum ; he also recommend- 
ed as a sudorific, the China root, which was at that time much 
in use. When the perspiration broke out, he positively prohibit- 
ed the urging it beyond the proper point; all medicines were 

> P. 74. Lat. edit. 2 ibj^. p. 94. 3 Practica, fol. 43. a. 263. a. 

* Fallop. de compos, medic, cap. 41, p. 208. s p_ io2. Lat. edit. 


thence laid aside, and he trusted to aromatic vinegar and gentle 
succLission alone for keeping off the lethargy, without considering, 
with Damianus, that more severe measures were essential.^ 

As a learned patron of the sciences, Kaye ranks amongst the 
most distinguished men of his country. Through his interest, 
Gonville Hall was, in the reign of Queen Mary, elevated to the 
rank of a college, better established, and more richly endowed. 
To the end of his life he continued to preside ^ over this his 
favourite institution, and passed his old age ^ there, not in Monk- 
ish contemplation, like Linacre, but zealously devoted to study, 
as the great number of his writings testifies. He was accused of 
having changed his faith according to circumstances. This pli- 
ability served, it is true, to retain him in favour with sovereigns 
of very opposite modes of thinking : it is not, however, a sign of 
elevation of mind, and can only be explained in part by the spirit 
of the English Reformation. Kaye was a reformer in fact, in- 
asmuch as he was a promoter of instruction, and, perhaps, laid 
no stress on outward profession. His versatility as a scholar is 
extraordinary, and would be worthy of the highest admiration, 
had he entirely avoided the reproach of credulity, had he not been 
too prolix in subordinate matters, and had he shown more decid- 
ed signs of genius. At one time he translated and illustrated 
the writings of Galen ; at another, he wrote on philology or the 
medical art — it must be confessed, without much originality, for 
he took Galen and Montanus as his patterns.* But where could 
physicians be found at that time who did not follow established 
doctrines ? Some essays on history and English Archaeology are 
found among his writings ;^ and his works on Natural History, 
dedicated to Conrad Gesner, are among the best of his age, 
because he imparted his observations in them quite plainly and 
naturally, free from the trammels of any school. He died at 
Cambridge on the 29th of July, 1573, and ordered for himself 
the following epitaph — " Fui Caius." 

^ P. 106, 7. Lat. edit. 

2 Shortly before his death he resigned the Mastership, but continued to reside in the 
College as a fellow-commoner. See Aikin, p. 109. — Transl. note. 

3 He gave for a new building to this establishment, more than 1800/., a very con- 
siderable sum for those times. 

* De medendi methodo, ex CI. Galeni Pergameni, et Joh. Bapt. Montani, Veronensis, 
principum medicorum, sententia, Libri duo. Basil. 1544. 8. He dedicated this 
frivolous book to the court-physician in ordinary, Butts. See Balaus, fol. 232. b. 

5 Compare his own work, " De Libris Propriis," in Jebb, which is a similar imitation 
of Galen, and is written in nearly the same spirit. 

6 De canibus Britannicis et de rariorum animalium et stirpium historia, in Jebb. 



"EiTTJ yuip TO 7ra'6os \u(Ti<s Twv Sea/jLtJov T?}s Eis 5a)»)i' ^vvctfxio^. ArETjEUS. 

Sect. 1. — The Cardiac Disease of the Ancients. 
(MoEBus Cardiacus.) 

Thus by the autumn of 1551, the Sweating Sickness had vanished 
from the earth ; it has never since appeared as it did then and 
at earlier periods ; and it is not to be supposed that it will ever 
again break forth as a great epidemic in the same form, and limit- 
ed to a four-and-twenty hours' course ; for it is manifest, that 
the mode of living of the people had a great share in its origin ; 
and this will never again be the same as in those days. Yet 
nature is not wanting in similar phenomena, which have ap- 
peared in ancient and modern times ; and if we take into the 
account the great frequency of cognate rheumatic maladies, it 
is possible that isolated cases may have sometimes occurred, in 
which repletion of impure fluids, and violently inflammatory treat- 
ment, have augmented a rheumatic fever, even to the destruction 
of nervous vitalit}^, by means of profuse perspiration — only, 
perhaps, that they ran a longer course (which does not consti- 
tute an essential diiference), and under totally difierent names, 
whereby attention is misled. Of all the diseases that have ever 
appeared which can in any way be compared to the English 
Sweating Sickness, we have principally three to look back 
upon — the cardiac disease of the ancients, the Picardxj sioeat, 
and the sweating fever of Rotingen. The first was, for reasons 
which have been already mentioned,' almost vinknown to the 
learned of the sixteenth century ; and it is matter of surprise, 
that Kaye himself, who had chosen for his favourite the best 
Roman physician, we mean Celsus, could have so entirely over- 
looked his by no means unimportant statements respecting this 
disease. Hoidier is the only author who ventures a comparison 
of the English Sweating Sickness with the ancient cardiac dis- 
ease ; his few, and almost lost words,^ remained, however, 

' See p. 251. 

2 " Sudor anglicus feve similis ei sudori, quern eardiacum dicebamus." De moib. 
int. L. II. fol. 60, a. 


unheeded ; nor are the differences between the two diseases 
small : but to return. 

The disease of which we are speaking appeared for a period 
of 500 years (from 300 B.C. to 200 after Christ), and was a 
common, almost every-day occurrence, which is often men- 
tioned even by non-medical writers. It was exceedingly dan- 
gerous, and even esteemed fatal ; and as it was far above the 
reach of Greek physiology, there were not wanting extraordinary 
opinions respecting its nature, and bold and singular modes of 
treatment, to which those who were attacked were subjected. 
The name Cardiac disease (morbus cardiacus, voaoc, Kap^iaKrj, 
and probably also v6(toq Kapdinc), was not bestowed by medical 
men, but by the people ; who, in the fourth century before 
Christ, for the name is as ancient as that period, could not 
know that the learned would dispute on that subject. Some 
affirmed, and among them men of great authority, such as 
Erasistratus, Asclepiades, and Aretceus, that the people Avere in 
the right so to call the disease ; that the heart was actually the 
part affected, and that their knowledge of the heart's functions 
was by no means small. ^ Others, on the contrary, would only 
acknowledge in that name an expression indicative, not of the 
particular seat of the disease, but only of its importance, inasmuch 
as the heart is well adapted, as the centre and source of life, to 
indicate this.'^ Others again, who attempted more refined con- 
jectures, wished to represent the pericardium as the seat of the 
malady, because darting pains were sometimes felt ^ in the 
region of the heart, or the diaphragm, or the lungs, or even the 
liver. The opinions were numerous ; the actual knowledge was 

The cardiac disease began with rigors and a numbness in the 
limbs,^ and sometimes even throughout the whole body. The 
pulse then took on the worst condition, was small, weak, fre- 
quent, empty, and as if dissolving ; in a more advanced stage, 
unequal and fluttering, until it became completely extinct. 
Patients were affected with hallucinations f they were sleepless, 
despaired of their recovery, and were usually covered suddenly 

' " Est autem cor prsestans atque salutaris corpori particula, prseministrans omnibus 
sanguinem membris, atque spiritum." Cml. Aurel. Acut. L. II. c. 34. p. 154. Com- 
pare the Author's " Doctrine of the Circulation, before Harvey^" Berlin, 1831. 8. 

2 Cesl. Aurel. cap. 30. p. 146. 3 Ibid. cap. 34. p. 156. 

* The whole 34th chapter, loc. cit. Aurelian gives, from the 30th to the 40th cap., 
the fullest information respecting tlie Morbus cardiacus. 

3 Torpor frigidus, C. 35. p. 157. ^ Halluciuatio. 


with an ill-savoured perspiration over the whole body, whence 
the disorder was likewise called DiapJioresis. Sometimes, how- 
ever, a washy sweat broke out, first on the face and neck. This 
then spread itself over the whole body ; assumed a very dis- 
agreeable odour, became clammy and like water in which flesh 
had been macerated, and ran through the bed-clothes in streams, 
so that the patient seemed to be melting away.' The breath was 
short and panting, almost to annihilation (insustentabilis) . Those 
affected were in continual fear of sufibcation ;^ tossed to and fro 
in the greatest anguish, and with a very thin and trembling voice 
uttered forth only broken words. They constantly felt an insufier- 
able oppression in the left side, or even over the whole chest ;^ 
and in the paroxysms which were ushered in Avith a fainting jit, 
or were followed by one, the heart was tumultuous and i^alpi- 
tated, without any alteration in the smallness of the pulse.* The 
countenance was ^Jrt/e as death, the eyes sunk in their sockets, 
and when the disease took a fatal turn, all was darkness around 
them. The hands and feet turned blue ; and whilst the heart, 
notwithstanding the universal coldness of the body, still beat 
violently, they for the most part retained possession of their 
senses. A few only wandered a short time before death, while 
others were even seized with convulsions and endowed with the 
power of prophecy.^ Finally, the 7iails became curned on their cold 
hands, the skin was wrinkled, and thus the sufferers resigned 
their spirit without any mitigation of their miserable condition.^ 

A striking resemblance is plainly perceived, from this descrip- 
tion, between the ancient cardiac disease and the English Sweat- 
ing Sickness in the most exquisite cases of each. In both the 
same palpitation of the heart, the same alteration of the voice, 
the same anxiety, the same impediment to respiration, and 
thence the same affection of the nerves of the chest, the same 
ill-scented sweat, and by means of this sweat, the same fatal 
evacuation ; in short, all the essential symptoms arising from the 
same circle of functions. For in the sweating pestilences of the 
ancients "^ as well as the moderns, the nerves of the abdomen 
remained unaffected ; the liver, intestines, and kidneys, took no 
part in the primary affection ; the diaphragm, as in the English 
Sweating Sickness, formed the partition. Hence the acute Are- 
tceiis did not hesitate to call the cardiac disease fainting (syncope), 

' Ctel. Atirel. p. 157. ^ Spiratio prajfocabilis. 

3 C. 34. p. 154. Thoracis gravedo. * C. 35. p. 156. 

5 AretcBiis, L. II. c. 3. p. 30. ^ Qpi AurcL loc. cit. ' Diaphorctici, cardiaci. 


with certainly an unusual extension of the notion implied by 
this term, which in its common acceptation excludes the turbu- 
lent commotion of the heart. In the affection of the brain some 
difference occurs, for though the hallucination afforded an un- 
favourable prognostic in both diseases, yet the fatal stupor was 
peculiar to the English Sweating Sickness, no observer having 
made mention of it in the cardiac disease. 

Greater and altogether essential differences between this affec- 
tion and the English Sweating Sickness appear in another respect. 
There is every reason to suppose that the cardiac disease iirst 
appeared in the time of Alexander the Great, that is to say, at 
the end of the fourth century before Christ ; for the Hippocratic 
phj'sicians were unacquainted with it, Erasistratus, who was 
body physician to Seleucus Nicator, and was a universally cele- 
brated professor at Alexandria under the first Ptolemy, being the 
first to mention it. If that age be compared even superficially 
with that of Henry the Vllth and Henry the Vlllth ; and 
Africa, Asia Minor, and the South of Europe with England, we 
shall easily be convinced that the two diseases, notwithstanding 
the agreement in their main symptoms, could not be the same ; 
moreover, much was comprehended by the ancients under the 
name of morbus cardiacus, which, on a nearer examination, 
proves not to be one and the same definite form of morbid action ; 
for sometimes this aftection is spoken of as an independent dis- 
ease ; sometimes it is mentioned only as a symptom superadded 
to others — as a kind of transition from other very various dis- 
eases, such as has occurred in modern times. Soranus mentions, 
as such diseases, continued fevers, accompanied by much heat ;^ 
and reckons among them the " Causus," that is, an inflammatory 
bilious fever, to which Aretceus also saw the cardiac disease super- 
added. These fevers passed, on the fifth or sixth day, into the 
cardiac disease, and such a transition occurred chiefly on the criti- 
cal days.^ In a similar sense Celsus speaks even of Phrenitis, 
under which name we are here to understand all inflammatory 
fevers accompanied by violent delirium, with the exception of 
actual inflammation of the brain. Thus we see that the cardiac 
disease arose and increased on a very different soil from other dis- 
eases, and was, to furnish an ancient example, as far from be- 
ing independent under these circumstances as lethargy was in 
similar cases. 

' Fcbres continuse flammatae. Ccel. Aurel. c. 31. p. 147. 
- Cretans, Cur. ac. L. II. c. 3. p. 188. 


But there was doubtless an independent idiopathic form of the 
cardiac disease. Whether this was febrile or not, the most cele- 
brated physicians of ancient times were not agreed. Now, how 
could they ever have differed upon the subject, if the cardiac dis- 
ease had always appeared only as a sequela on the fifth or sixth 
day of inflammatory fevers ? ApolJophanes, a disciple of Erasis- 
tratus, and physician to Antioclius the First, considered it, with 
his master, as constantly febrile, and his opinion prevailed for a 
long time : perhaps he was in the right, for it is probable that in 
the first half of the third century, the disorder was much more 
violent than at a subsequent period. His celebrated contem- 
porary, Demetrius of Apamea, disciple of Herophilus, affirmed, 
that he had recognised fever only in the beginning of the disease, 
and that it disappeared in its further progress. Yery soon, most 
physicians decided that it was not febrile, but Asclejnades distin- 
guished a febrile and a non-febrile form of the cardiac disease, 
and it is certain that this physician was a very accurate observer. 
Themison and T/tessalus also agreed with him. Aretceus de- 
scribed, in a cursory manner, the febrile form onl}'', and perhaps 
was not acquainted with any other. Soramis followed, in the 
essential points, Asclepiacles, the founder of his school ; and later 
writers generally regarded the inward heat, the hot breath, and 
the burning thirst — symptoms which were occasionally less 
marked, as proofs of the febrile nature of the disease. Numerous 
theoretical views, belonging to particular schools, of which we do 
not here treat, were intermingled with these, and upon the whole, 
that form seems to have been esteemed as non-febrile, in which 
the signs of feverish excitement appeared less marked. In all 
cases the cardiac disease set in with external coldness, and with 
a small, contracted, quick pulse, symptoms which with certainty 
indicate fever.' 

Respecting the course of the cardiac disease, we are not fur- 
nished with sufficient information. It was no doubt very rapid, 
for the frame could not long endure symptoms of so violent a 
kind, and the disorder must of necessity soon have come to a 
crisis ; yet from the ample directions for treatment, we may con- 
clude that it lasted at least some days. If the perspiration was 
well surmounted, patients seemed to recover rapidly, and their 
sufferings appeared to them, according to the expressions of Are- 
Ueiis, like a dream, out of which they awoke to a consciousness 

' Cal. Aurel. c. 33. p. 150. 


of the increased acumen of their senses.' But the termination 
was not always so fortunate. The disease was very dangerous, 
and in many, after the occurrence of an incomplete crisis, an 
insidious fever remained behind, which ended in a consumption.^ 
The whole phenomenon was altogether peculiar, and among 
existing diseases there are none which bear any comparison 
with it. 

There must therefore have been something in the whole state 
of existence among the ancients which favoured the formation of 
the cardiac disease. That it arose oftener in summer than in 
winter, that it attacked men more frequently than women, and 
especially young people full of life, and hot-blooded plethoric 
persons, who used much bodily exercise, we learn from credible 
observers.^ In this respect, therefore, it bore a resemblance to 
the English Sweating Sickness. We may also add, that indiges- 
tion, repletion, drunkenness, as likewise grief and fear, but 
especially vomiting and the employment of the bath after dinner, 
occasioned an attack of the malady."* Let us call to mind the 
habits of the ancients. It was in the time of Alexander that 
oriental luxury was first introduced. Gluttony became a part of 
the enjoyment of life, and warm baths a necessary refinement in 
sensuality, which just at this time were philosophically established 
by Ejncurns ; nor was this the last instance in which philoso- 
phers encouraged the errors and infirmities of human society. 

Here again, therefore, as in the English Sweating Sickness, 
we meet with the relaxed state of skin, and the foid repletion 
engendered by the same indulgence in sensuality which we have 
found to exist in the sixteenth century. How this corruption of 
morals increased, and to what a frightful height it was carried 
among the Romans, it is not necessary here further to elucidate ; 
and we may take it for a fact, that in consequence of it, the 
general constitution of the ancients underwent a peculiar modi- 
fication ; that this relaxation of skin and gross repletion were 
propagated from generation to generation ; and that, as among 
chronic diseases, those of a gouty character were its more frequent 
results, so among the inflammatory, the cardiac disease made its 
appearance as the general effect of this kind of life. 

Where, however, such a system of life existed among whole 
communities, the original and peculiar occasion was not needed 
in every individual case to bring the pre -disposition for a disease 

1 L. II. c. 3. p. 30. 2 j,.g;_ Cur. ac. L. 11. c. 3. p. 193. 

3 Cal. Aurel. c. 31. p. 146. * Ibid. 



which propagated itself by hereditary taint, to an actual eruption. 
Shocks to the constitution of quite a different kind were often 
sufficient for the purpose. Thus, among the Romans, it was by 
no means always the case, that gluttony and relaxation of the 
skin immediately gave rise to the cardiac disease ; while, on the 
other hand, the usual faintness, induced by too copious blood- 
letting, passed into this impetuous agitation of the heart, accom- 
panied by colliquative sweats ;' and all over- violent perspirations 
in other diseases were apt to take the same dangerous course.^ 
We must here also take into account a practice among the 
Romans, which was very injurious, and yet rendered sacred by 
the laws ; namely, visiting the public baths late in the evening, 
just after the principal meal, and awaiting the digestion of their 
food in these places of soft indulgence.^ How much must the 
tendency of sweating disorders have been favoured by these 


Surmises, founded on the facts already stated, can alone be 
offered respecting the nature of the ancient cardiac disease. The 
ancients give us no certain intelligence upon it ; for their mode 
of observing did not lead to that object at which modern medicine 
aims. That the cardiac disease tvas not of a rheumatic character 
seems deducible from several circumstances — from the quality of 
the atmosphere in southern climates, which is not so favourable 
to rheumatic maladies, as to give rise to a distinctly defined form 
of that complaint throughout a period of five hundred years ; 
from the nature of the so-called inflammatory fever, which ex- 
hibited no rheumatic symptoms in its course ; and lastly, from 
the treatment of the cardiac disease, for it was a common practice 
to cool down the " diaphoretic" patients in the midst of their per- 
spiration, by sponging them with cold water, to expose them to 
the air, and some physicians went so far as to advise cold baths 
and effusions.^ How could they have ventured upon such reme- 
dies if the cardiac disease had been of a rheumatic nature ? 

In the sweating fevers of the sixteenth century, every abrupt 
refrigeration, every exposure of the skin, was fatal. It is thence 

1 Ccsl. Aurel. c. 33. p. 153. A perfectly similar observation is made in the present 
day, on the increasing frequency of liver complaints in England. Parents who have 
been a long time in the East Indies, entail the predisposition to these diseases, which 
are altogether foreign to the temperate zones, on their posterity, among whom there is 
no need of a tropical heat, but mci-ely common causes acting in their own country, to 
call forth various liver complaints. See Bell [George Hamilton). 

2 C(eI. Aurel. c. 3G. p. 159. 

' On this subject read the classical work of Bacchis. 

* CeUus, L. in. c. 19. p. 140. C<cl. Aurel. from c. 37. on. 


to be inferred, that the English Sweating Sickness differed from 
the ancient cardiac disease in its rheumatic character ; even 
althougli both diseases were founded in common on an impure 
gross repletion and relaxation of skin, and tlie essential pheno- 
mena of both went through the same course : not to advert to 
other differences which are manifest from what has been stated. 

The remaining treatment of the cardiac disorder should not be 
altogether passed over in this place, because it shows very clearl}'- 
the general style of thinking of the medical profession, as also 
certain metaphysical excitations which are innate in that pro- 
fession, and of which there is therefore a repetition in all ages. 
For whilst some proceeded with commendable care and caution, 
and Aretceus feared ^ a fatal result from the slightest error, others, 
again, would fain render excited nature obedient to their rough 
command by means of the most violent remedies. It, therefore, 
occasionally happened that in their over-hasty activity they were 
unable to distinguish between a salutary perspiration and a 
dangerous " diaphoresis." This they suppressed at all hazards, 
and thus sent their patients to the shades of their fathers. Others 
forthwith flew to Chrysippic bandaging, the great means of sup- 
pressing profuse evacuations, and even violent spasms.^ Others 
were for obviating the debility as quickly as possible by means of 
nourishing diet, and overloaded the stomach, as if the recovery of 
strength depended entirely upon eating. Others allowed as much 
wine as possible to be drunk for twenty-four hours together, even 
to the extent of producing intoxication f and Asclepiades selected 
for this extraordinary death-bed carousal the Greek salt wine,* 
for the sake of bringing on a diarrhcEa, whereby the opened pores 
of the skin might again close, and the too mobile atoms might be 
carried towards the bowels. With the same object he ordered 
active clysters,^ for if they succeeded in causing a full evacuation, 
he maintained that the perspiration must necessarily be arrested ! 
Endemus, of the Methodic sect, recommended even clysters of 
cold water,^ and whatever else the rashness of medical men 
had fool-hardily contrived ; acting on the ancient notion, that 
severe diseases always required violent remedies. Aretceus 
recommended blood-letting, which others pronounced to be 

' " Hv yap tTTi cvyKOTzy Kal fffiiKpbv ufiapT(j^T], prj'iSiojg tig dSov Tpsnsi. Cur. ac. 
L. II. c. 3. p. 188. 

3 Ccel. Aurel. c. 37- p. 169. » Ccel. Aiirel. c. 38. p. 171. 

* Grajcuni salsum, olvog rtiaXacrffioiih'og, a mixture of mne and sea- water which 
was very much in use. 

5 CcbL Aurel. c, 39. pp. 174, 17-5. s Ccel. Aurel. c. 38. p 171. 



nothing short of certain death.' He had, however, a notion, that 
the Causus was the foundation of the cardiac disease, and perhaps 
he was right. 

A cautious employment of wine was apparently of great use, 
and what may excite surprise, physicians gave detailed and fri- 
volous precepts on the choice and enjoyment of food. If the 
irritable stomach rejected this repeatedly, they even went so far, 
according to the Roman method, as to make the patient vomit 
both before and after his meals, in order that the organ might 
thus bear the repeated use of nourishment. It was also asserted 
that the stomach retained food and wine better if the body were 
previously rubbed all over with bruised onions.' All this affords 
us an insight into the nature of this remarkable disease, which 
has now so completely vanished from the world. Finally, when 
astringent decoctions proved fruitless, particular confidence was 
placed in the application of various powders ^ to the surface of 
the body, conjointly with the use of light bed-clothes and the 
avoidance of feather-beds, which the effeminacy of the ancients 
had already introduced.^ As astringents they selected pome- 
granate bark, the leaves of roses, blackberries, and myrtles, 
as also fullers' earth, gypsum, alum, litharge, slaked lime,® and, 
when nothing else was at hand, even common road dust !^ The 
efficacy of some of these extraordinary remedies cannot be denied. 
At least it has been proved in modern times wdth respect to 
alkalies, which are of a somewhat similar nature, that they are 
of great service where there is an abundant determination of acid 
towards the skin, and it is very probable that the perspiration 
of these diaphoretic patients contained much acid. 

Sect. 2. — The Picardy Sweat. 


The Picardy Sweat is a decided miliary fever, which has often 
prevailed, not only in Picardy, but also in other provinces of 
France, for more than a hundred years, and even at the present 

^ "nihil jugulatione differrc." Ceel. Aiirel. c. 38. p. 171. 

2 Celsus recommended a sextariiim and a half a-day, which is ahout 42 cubic inches. 
loc. cit. Cardiacorum morbo unicam spem in vino esse, certum est. Plin. Hist. Nat. 
L. xxiii. c. 2. T. II. p. 303. Bibere et sudare vita cardiaci est. Senec. Epist. 15. 
T. II. p. 68. Ed. Ruhkopf. Cardiaco cyathum nunqiiam mixturus amico. Juvenal. 
Sat, V. 32. 

3 Celsus. * Aspergincs, sympasmata, diapasmata. C'(el. Aurel. c. 38. p. 171. 
* C(pl. Aurel. c. 37. p. 161. * Arcfcpus, p. 192. ' Celsus, loc. cit. 


time exists in some places as an endemic disease.^ We have 
pointed out the affinity between the English Sweating Sickness 
and miliary fever. Both are rheumatic fevers — the former of 
twenty-four hours' duration, the latter running a course of at 
least seven days. In the former there was no eruption, or if in 
isolated cases an eruption made its appearance, it was doubtless 
subordinate, not essential. In the miliary fever, on the contrary, 
the eruption is so essential, that this disease may be considered 
as a completely esanthematous form of rheumatic fever. 

The history of miliary fever is full of important facts, and the 
sweating fever of Picardy forms but a variety of it. The erup- 
tion in itself is of very ancient occurrence, and was most probably, 
as at present, observed time immemorial in conjunction with 
petechiae, occurring as a critical metastasis in the oriental glan- 
dular plague, perhaps even in the ancient plague recorded by Thu- 
cydides. It also occasionally accompanied petechial fever, as 
unquestionably it did small-pox and many other diseases, in the 
same manner as we now see ; for the miliary eruption is a very 
common symptom, which is easily induced, and increases the 
danger of various other accidental complications. This is dif- 
ferent, however, from the idiopathic miliary fever, which did not 
exist either before, or even at the period of, the English Sweat- 
ing Sickness, but occurred as an epidemic, frequently mentioned 
in Saxony, a hundred years later ^ (1652). 

We cannot, therefore, consider this eruptive disease as having 
proceeded from the English Sweating Sickness, in the same man- 
ner as the petechial fever had its probable origin in the glandular 
plague, even supposing a more decided inclination of the Sweat- 
ing Sickness to the eruptive character could be proved than is 
possible from the facts afforded. A whole century intervened, 
and what vast national revolutions ! 

This same separation of so long a period makes also against 
the supposition, that the English Sweating Sickness was an in- 
terrupted miliary fever, which exhausted its power by a too luxu- 
riant activity of the skin on the first day, before the eruption 
made its appearance. Moreover, the similarity and isolation of 
all the five epidemic sweating fevers, as regards the brevity of 

1 For mstance, in tlie villages of Eue-Saint-Pierre and NeuviUe-en-Hez, between 
Beauvais and Clermont. Rayer, Suette, p. 74. 

2 Godofredi Welschii Historia medica novum puerperarum morbum continens. Disp. 
d. 20. April. 1655. Lipsise, 4to. The principal -work upon the fii'st visitation of 
miliary fever in Germany. 


the course of the disease, and the absence of all transition forms 
of any duration, which certainly would have existed had nature 
intended gradually to form a miliary fever out of the English 
Sweating Sickness, lead to the same conclusion. 

But to return to the miliary fever. Some forms of this dis- 
ease have been observed, in which a profuse perspiration, in com- 
bination with nervous symptoms, has endangered life on the first 
day of the attack ; equally often, too, the eruption has appeared 
fully formed on the very first day ; and if we duly consider, as 
we ought, the regular course of miliary fever whenever it has 
assumed an epidemic character, we shall always find, even in that 
case, a development of symptoms differing fundamentally from 
those of the English Sweating Sickness. If, occasionally, in- 
stances of miliary fever occurred, in which no eruption came out, 
as was the case recently (in 1821), they were to be considered in 
the same light as other acute eruptive diseases, as, for example, 
scarlet fever, in which nature indulges in a like irregularity, 
without, however, altering the essence of those diseases. And 
since, finally, it has been observed in many cases,' that the miliary 
eruption could be prevented by the application of cold at the 
commencement, a distinguished modern physician has attached 
great consequence to this circumstance, as showing that miliary 
fever and the English Sweating Sickness were the same disease ; '^ 
but a check of this kind is, at all events, impossible in those 
miliary fevers where the eruption breaks forth on the first or 
second day ; and moreover, experience tells us, that many other 
diseases also, such as inflammations, rheumatisms, gastric fevers, 
and even abdominal typhus, may be arrested in their course, and 
confined within narrower bounds, so as not to manifest all their 

1 For example, in the epidemic of 1782, which, during the course of a few months, 
carried off in Lauguedoc upwards of 30,000 people. Pujol observed in that epidemic 
four forms of exanthem. 1. A Purpura urticata — elevated rose-like spots, or papula? 
of smaller circumference : it was very favourable, and sometimes passed off without 
fever. 2. Spots consisting of very small miliary vesicles and pustules which ran into 
each other : less favourable, 3. Small hemispherical pimples, from the size of a 
mustard seed to that of a corn of maize. They were surmounted by a white point 
before they died away, and the large kind became converted into pustules, filled with 
matter or greyish semitransparcnt phlycta-^na?, with red inflamed bases. This form 
was the commonest, and extended, mixed with the others, over the whole surfiice, 
especially the trunk. 4. An exanthem resembling flea-bites, of a bright red, with a 
small grey miliary vesicle in the middle, almost invisible, except through a lens : this 
form was the worst. Pujol, ffiuvres divcrses de Medecine Pratique, 4 vols. Casires, 
1801. 8vo. 

- Fodere, III. p. 222. 


We are, therefore, completely entitled to consider the appear- 
ance of the miliary sweating fevers as altogether a novelty, 
originating in the middle of the 17th century, and having no 
discoverable connexion with the English Sweating Sickness. 
There have been in Germany, since the year 1652, many visit- 
ations of miliary fever ; but this disease did not increase much 
in extent until about the year 1715, when it spread into France 
and the neighbouring countries, particularly Piedmont,' whilst 
England remained almost entirely free from it. The French 
epidemics were, upon the whole, much more severe than the 
German ; and on this account we select one of the most ancient, 
and also the most recent of them, in order to give a general view 
of miliary fever, as compared with the English Sweating Sickness. 

The miliary fever first appeared in Picardy, in the year 1718, 
in le Yimeux (Yinnemacus pagus), a district on the north of the 
Somme and on the south of the Bresle and the department of the 
Lower Seine. It increased annually in extent ; most places in 
Picardy were visited by it, and it was not long before it was seen 
in Flanders.^ 

We are still in possession of a very distinct account, which 
we will here detail, of an epidemic at Abbeville in the year 1733, 
where the miliary fever had existed fifteen years previously. 
There were scarcely any premonitory symptoms, but the disease 
commenced at once with pinching pains in the stomach, extreme 
prostration of strength, dull head-ache, and difficulty of breathing, 
interrupted by sighing. Patients complained of violent heat, 
and were bathed in a pungent sweat of foul odour, while nausea 
was occasionally felt. Sparks appeared before the eyes, and the 
countenance became Jlu shed. Patients were tormented with burn- 
ing thirst; and yet the tongue was as moist as in perfect health. 
The pulse was frequent and undulating, without hardness ; and 
in the course oiafew hours, an insufierable itching came on over 
the whole body, accompanied by distressing jactitation : upon 
this, thickly studded, red, round pustules, not bigger than mus- 
tard-seeds, broke out, wherefrom patients emitted an extreme- 
ly disagreeable urinous odour, which was imparted to those 
who were about their persons. Sometimes they had evacuations, 
at other times they suffered from constipation, but all complained 

' On this point see AlUoni, who drew his classical description of miliary fever from 
the Piedmont epidemics. 

2 5eZ^o?, An fehri putrida?, Picardis Suette dicta; sudorifera ? Diss, prpes. Ott. Oas. 
Barfeknecht Paris, 1733. 4to. 


of want of sleep ; and when they felt an inclination to doze, they 
were again aroused by fresh chilliness. Many bled at the nose 
till they fainted ; and with women, the menstrual discharge often 
appeared, though not at the proper time. The urine was at times 
deficient in quantity, at others discharged in abundance, and 
without any critical signs ; if pale and plentiful, it betokened 
delirium ; then the eyelids twitched convulsively, a humming 
noise commenced in the ears, and the patient tossed about rest- 
lessly. The pulse became strong, irregular, and, like the breath- , 
ing, very quick. The countenance grew redder and redder ; and 
soon after, the sufferers, as though struck by lightning, were 
seized with lethargy, and expired, generally in the act of cough- 
ing and spitting blood. 

Such was the nature of the disease when it attacked many at 
once : there were, however, several varieties. With some the 
miliary vesicles broke out on the second day, with others not be- 
fore the third ; and if all went on favourably, they lost their red- 
ness on the seventh day, and the skin all over the body scaled off 
like bran. The fever was sometimes extremely violent ; at others, 
without apparent cause, very mild ; at least one might be de- 
ceived at the commencement of the attack, by the apparently 
favourably symptoms ; for those who in the morning had scarce- 
ly any notable degree of fever, who neither suffered from any 
anxious sensation nor violent heat, in whom no subsultus tendi- 
num was perceptible, no want of perspiration, nor any retrocession 
of the eruption, were sometimes towards evening seized with 
phrenzy, and died in a state of lethargy. Evacuations, which al- 
leviate other diseases, made this miliary fever worse. Fav^ourable 
symptoms could never be depended on. In the midst of profuse 
perspiration the patient died, either from constipation or diarrhoea. 
A copious discharge of urine was a bad sign ; composure was suc- 
ceeded by delirium, cheerfulness by lethargy : the disease was 
throughout treacherous and disguised. It was particularly neces- 
sary for those suffering from pleurisy or any inflammatory fevers 
to be guarded against its approach. Many fell sacrifices to this 
epidemic who thought themselves in a state of convalescence ; and 
with such it was easier to foretell than to prevent the consequences. 
In cases of this kind the miliary vesicles were less red and grew 
pale sooner ; but if the disease attacked a healthy person, then 
they were redder, and continued longer. Of those who recovered, 
not a few suffered for many months, nay, even for a whole year, 
from night perspirations, without fever or sleeplessness, but with 


an eruption of little miliary vesicles, which disappeared ' again on 
the slightest exposure to cold. The later miliary epidemic fevers 
in France, which are distinguished by the name of the Picardy 
Sweating Sickness, are generally very well described;^ so much 
so, that we have few epidemics of modern times whose course and 
succession we can trace so well. But the epidemic of 1821, which 
raged in the departments of the Oise, and of the Seine and Oise, 
from March to October, has been observed by all with the great- 
est care, including men of distinguished talent.*'' 

We shall give the description of this disease. There were no 
constant premonitory symptoms ; it often broke out quite sud- 
denly, but many complained some days before of debility, de- 
spondency, want of appetite, nausea, head-ache ; sometimes also 
of giddiness and slight chilliness. Many retired to rest in health, 
and awoke during the night with the disease, covered with a per- 
spiration, which ceased only with death or recovery. With some 
the sweating was preceded for some hours, or even only for some 
moments, by a scarcely perceptible feverish commotion, accom- 
panied with burning heat, or with a sensation of pain which ran 
through every limb, and nearly always with spasms in the 
stomach. With others the disease announced itself by lacerating 
rheumatic pains, which graduall}^ increasing, they became bed- 
ridden. The mouth was foul, the taste at times bitter, the tongue 
white, more rarely tinged with yellow, and thus it remained till 
the patient was restored. The sufferer was shortly covered with 
a tliick, peculiarly fetid sweat, that certainly produced alleviation, 
but became very intolerable to him from its unpleasant stench, 
which was even communicated to the clothes of the bystanders. 
In the mean time it was discovered by the pulse, that the fever 
had considerably abated ; but, on the third day, the patient was 
seized with convulsive spasms in the stomach, great oppression at 
the chest, and a sensation of suffocation — symptoms which caused 
him insupportable anguish. These attacks, accompanied by hic- 
cup and eructation, continued for several hours, and returned from 
time to time, an eruption, partly palpular, simultaneously breaking 
out first on the neck, then on the shoulders down to the hands 
and breast, less frequently on the thighs and face. The little 

' Rayer, Suette, p. 426," where the principal passage of Bellot's dissertation is re- 
printed word for word. 

3 Best in Rayer, p 421. Not so well in Ozanam, T. iii. p. lOo. The writers are 
very numerous. 

3 Rayer, Mazet, Bally, Francois, Pariset, and many others. 


pimples were of a pale red colour and conical, with glistening 
heads, and between them appeared innumerable small miliary 
pustules, filled with transparent serous fluid, which soon thicken- 
ed and assumed a whiter hue. At the time and previous to the 
breaking out of the exanthem, the patient experienced a very 
severe burning and pricking sensation in the skin, which neverthe- 
less sometimes occurred on the second or fourth day, and which 
increased sometimes in one part, sometimes in another, when the 
sweating declined. 

Towards the fifth day, however, after the sweating had entirely 
ceased, the complaint grew worse again. The spasms and parox- 
ysms of suffocation returned, and they were succeeded by renewed 
eruptions of the exanthem ; a decided improvement, however, 
shortly took place ; the little pimples lost their redness, the mili- 
ary vesicles dried away, and at a period from the seventh to the 
tenth day recovery commenced under a general exfoliation of the 
cuticle. Sometimes the eruption did not appear, whether the pa- 
tients were under medical treatment, or left to their own guidance, 
but with those few in whom there was an absence of miliary 
vesicles, that peculiar pricking and itching of the skin did not 
take place. 

Between the fifth and seventh day the patients usually com- 
plained of great weakness, and had a desire to eat. A few table- 
spoonfuls of wine then agreed with them very well ; for the rest, 
neither thirst nor lethargy was observable, but it was particularly 
remarkable that the urine was clear and abundant. Up to the 
seventh day a confined state of bowels was usual, and, with the 
exception of the already mentioned attacks of tightness and op- 
pression, the breathing remained free, though with great sleep- 
lessness, during the whole malady. Nothing morbid was to be 
observed in the chest, and the patients lay stretched out at full 
length, so that there was no occasion at any time to raise their 

Such was the regular course of this miliary fever, but its pro- 
gress was often accelerated by very dangerous symptoms, and 
occasionally it proved fatal within a very few hours. If at the 
time of the attack the patients were very restless and talkative, 
the eyes glistening, the pulse, without being hard, tumultuous, 
and the edges of the tongue reddened, delirium soon succeeded, 
and then convulsions and death. Great dejiression of the spirits 
was a very bad symptom ; bleeding was never of any avail, yet 
the menstrual discharge did not interrupt the course of the dis- 


ease. There was in general a great degree of malignancy per- 
ceptible in tlie malady, as was also rendered apparent by the 
course of the epidemic. If the miliary Sweating Fever broke out 
in a fresh place, two or three persons only were thereupon attack- 
ed, and that favourably, which led to a supposition that the evil 
had all passed away, for during the next fifteen or twenty days, not 
any fresh attacks were heai'd of. Suddenly, however, the epidemic 
reappeared with increased virulence. The great number of the 
sufferers spread consternation and terror amongst the inhabitants, 
and the cases of death became frequent. After this first burst of 
fury, the epidemic grew more mild again, so that many patients 
were not confined to their beds at all. This mitigation of the 
miliary fever was likewise manifested ^ by the prolongation of its 
course beyond the seventh day. 

If we compare this epidemic with the one observed at Abbe- 
ville in 1773, we shall find between them but very trifling dif- 
ferences, which -would appear still more clearly in some of the in- 
termediate visitations, thus conforming to what has been observed 
in other eruptive maladies. It is consequently evident that the 
miliary fevers ^ which have appeared in France in recent times, 
do not differ in any essential point from those of more ancient 
date. The surest proof of their identity is, their persistence for 
nearly two centuries ; and from the manner in which they have 
presented themselves to observation, they are to be considered as 
distinct from the English Sweating Sickness, though certainly al- 
lied to it. It would exceed our limits to pursue this inquiry fur- 
ther, but it may be as well to give the following short catalogue^ 
of the most important miliary epidemics. 

1652. Leipzig. 1690. Diisseldorf. 

1660. Augsburg. Erfurt. 

1666. Bavaria. Jena. 

1672. Hungary. 1694. Berlin. 

1675. Hamburgh. 1700. Breslau. 

1680. Germany to a great extent. 1709. Dantzic, Marienburg. 

1689. Philippsburg. 1712. Miimpelgart. 

1690. Stuttgard. 1713. Saint Valery. (Somme.) 

1 Bally and Franqois, in the Journal General de Medecine, T. LXXVII. p. 204. 
Compare Fodere, T. III. p. 227. Ozanam, T. III. p. 116. Rayer, Suette, p. 148. 
Mai. d. 1. p. T. I. p. 320. 

~ We may add to them also those observed in the South of Germany, in the cetio- 
logy of which Schonlein lays much stress on the contamination of the air in the process 
of steeping hemp. Vorlesimgen, II. p. 324. 

' It is not complete, but may render apparent the power and extent of the disease. 
See Rayer, Suette, p. 465. 




15. Laybach. 


Provins. (Seine et Marne.) 



Vire. (Calvados.) 


Berthonville. (Eure.) * 



Falaise. Calvados.) 

Abbeville. (Somme.) 


Rouen. (Lower Seine.) 


Canton de Bray. (Lower 





Francfort on the Maine. 







Caudebec. (Lower Seine.) 




Guise. (Aisne.) 



Chambery, Annecy, St. Jean 


de Maurienne. (Savoy.) 












Vienna. (Austria.) 










Paris. (Seine.) 



Beaumont. (Seine et Oise.) 


Chambly. (Oise.) 
















Strasburg. (Lower Rhine.) 



Beauvais. (Oise.) 







Fernaise. (Seine et Oise.) 




Fresneuse. (Lower Seine.) 


Valepuiseux. (Seine et Oise.) 

Vimeux. (Seine et Oise.) 



Orleans. (Loiret.) 


Cusset. (Allier.) 

Pluviers. (Loiret.) 

Boulogne. (Pas de Calais.) 

Meaux. Villeneuve. 


Montaigu les Combrailles. (Puy 

Saint George. (Seine et 

de Dome.) 



Amiens, environs. (Somme.) 



Paris. (Seine.) 


Guise. (Aisne.) 


Caudebec. (Lower Seine.) 



Alengon, (Orne.) 


, Luzarches, Royauroont. 


Vire. (Calvados.) 

(Seine et Oise.) 


64. Bayeux. (Calvados.) 



Balleroy, Basoques. (Calvados.) 


Saint-Geoi'ge, Saint-Quentin. 


Caen. (Calvados.) 



1766. Campagny. (Calvados.) 1782. Boissy Saint-Leger. (Seine et 

1767. Thinchebray, Truttemer. (Orne.) Oise.) 

1768. 69. St. Quentin. (Aisne.) 1783. Beaumont. (Seine et Oise.) 

1770. Louviers. (Eure.) 1791. Meru. (Oise.) 

1771. Montargis. (Loiret.) 1810. Nourare, Villotran. (Oise.) 

1772. Hardivilliei's, environs. 1812. Rosheim, and may other places. 

1773. Hardivilliers. (Oise.) (Lower Rhine.) 

1776. Laigle. (Orne.) 1821. La Chapelle, Saint-Pierre, and 

1777. Jouy. (Seine et Oise.) sixty places around. (Oise ; 
1782. Castelnaudary. (Aude.) Seine et Oise.) 

Seci\ 3. — The Roettingen Sweating Sickness. 

We now come to a phenomenon which, notwithstanding its 
short duration and very limited extension, is one of the most 
memorable of this century. Up to the present time, its real im- 
portance has not been recognised, because the clouds of self- 
sufficient ignorance have prevented our taking a survey of the 
formation of diseases, throughout long periods of time. It has 
been sunk for an age in the sea of oblivion, from whence we will 
now draw it forth to the light of day. 

In November, 1802, a very hot and dry summer had been suc- 
ceeded by incessant rain. Thick fogs spread over the country, 
and enveloped such places in central Germany as were inaccessible 
to ventilation. Amongst others, the small Franconian town of 
Roettingen, situated on the river Tauber, and surrounded by 
mountains.^ Scarcely had a few weeks elapsed, when unexpect- 
edly, towards the 25th of November, an extremely fatal disease 
broke out in the town, which was without example in the memory 
of its inhabitants, and totally unknown to the physicians of the 

Strong vigorous young men were suddenly seized with unspeak- 
able dread ; the heart became agitated and heat violently against 
the ribs, a profuse, sour, ill-sinelliny perspiration broke out over 
the whole body, and at the same time, they experienced a lacer- 
ating pain in the nape of the neck, as if a violent rheumatic fever 
had taken possession of the tendinous tissues. This pain ceased 
sometimes very quickly, and if it then shifted to the chest, the 
distressing palpitation of the heart recommenced ; a spasmodic 
trembling of the whole body ensued ; the sufferers fainted, their 
limbs became rigid, and thus they breathed their last, hi most 
cases, all this occurred vnthin four and tioenty hours. They did 
not all, however, succumb under the first attack, but as soon as 

' At that time inhabited by about two hundred and fifty country people. Sinner, p. 7. 


the accelerated pulse had sunk to the lowest ebb of smallness and 
feebleness, a corresponding effect being observable in the respira- 
tion, the violent pain would in some cases return to the outward 
parts. The patient then felt a benumbing pressure and stiffness 
in the nape of the neck ; and the pulse and respiration became re- 
stored again as in health, but the perspiration continued to pour 
incessantly down the skin. 

This apparent safety was, however, very deceptive, for a renew- 
ed palpitation of the heart unexpectedly commenced, accompanied 
by a feeble pulse ; and then death was often inevitable. It was 
remarkable, that the patients, though bathed in perspiration, had 
very little thirst, and the tongue was not dry, nor ever even foul, 
but retained its natural moisture. With most, however, the urine 
was scanty ; as the skin, under the increasing debility, permitted 
too much fluid to stream forth through its pores. If the disease 
passed off without heating sudorijics, then in getieral no eruption 
made its appearance. The malady then continued till the sixth 
day, but on the first only did it display its malignant symptoms, 
for by the second, the sweating diminished and lost every un- 
favourable quality, so that increased transpiration of the skin, 
without any other symptoms of importance, alone remained, and 
on the sixth day the patient was perfectly restored. 

Had there been in Roettingen a ph3^sician at hand from the 
commencement, well skilled in medical history, and who would 
have adopted the old English treatment of the Sweating Sickness, 
this new fever would have appeared but as a perfectly mild dis- 
ease, and would certainly have carried off but few of the inhabit- 
ants of this peaceful little town. As it was, however, the scenes 
of Liibeck and Zwickau were renewed, and it seemed as if the in- 
numerable victims to the hot treatment, and to Kegeler^s truculent 
medical work, had descended to the grave in vain. The suff'erers 
toere, as in the sixteenth century, literally stewed to death ! for the 
moment the people imagined that they knew how nature meant to 
escape, they ordered feather-beds to be heaped on the perspiring 
patient, so that the mouth and nose alone remained uncovered. 
Doors and windows were tightly closed, and the stove emitted a 
glowing heat, whilst a most intolerable odour of perspiration 
streamed forth from beneath the broad and lofty beds ; added to 
which, that two and even more patients were often lying in the 
same room ; nay, even stowed together under the same mountain 
of feathers, and in order that inward heat might not be wanting, 
pots of theriaca were swallowed, and the patient was incessantly 


plied with elder electuary. Thus the bad humours were expelled 
together with the perspiration ; and v/hether the sufferers were 
suffocated, or surmounted, as by a miracle, this mal-treatment of 
nature, a conviction was felt, that the most salutary remedies had 
been employed, and when at last eruptions of various colours 
broke out, it was considered as certain, that the poison had been 
carried off in them. The citizens of Roettingen, therefore, fell 
into the same erroneous opinion, which, upheld by medical schools, 
had, time immemorial, increased inflammatory diseases, particu- 
larly the exanthematous, and caused them to become malignant. 
The above-mentioned eruptions were of various sorts ; miliary 
vesicles of every form and colour, filled with an acrid fluid ; actual 
blistery eruptions (pemphigus), and even petechise ; and it is to 
be observed, that the patients, during the first days of the sweating 
fever, never suffered from that peculiar pricking sensation over 
the whole body which precedes the eruption of miliaria, but com- 
plained only, and that not always, of a local itching, where the 
eruption had broken out. It was equally rare to observe a regu- 
lar desquamation of the skin, and it is therefore to be assumed, that 
the eruptions icere only sxjmptomatic, and not by any means neces- 
sarily connected with the disease, as in the decidedl}^ miliary fevers. 
The disease excited, from its very commencement, the greatest 
consternation ; and as it was increased, even from the first days 
of its appearance, by the sudorific system of treatment, deaths 
were multiplied ; the continual peal of funeral bells struck mortal 
terror, as of old at Shrewsbury, into the hearts of both sick and 
healthy ; and this oppressed little town was shunned as a pest- 
hole by the inhabitants of the surrounding neighbourhood. At 
the commencement of the disease, they were entirely without me- 
dical advice, till a skilful physician arrived from the vicinity,' 
and as mo^t of the inhabitants were already attacked with the 
sweating fever, he immediately prescribed the proper treatment. 
But the powers of one man are not sufficient, amid such confusion, 
to contend with the deeply-rooted prejudices of the people, and so 
they continued in most houses to expel by heat and theriaca both 
perspiration and life together ; till at last, on the third of Decem- 
ber, Dr. Sinner of Wiirzburg arrived, without whom the remem- 
brance of this remarkable disease would have been obliterated, and 
conjointly with his gallant colleague, like the anonymous phy- 
sician formerly in Zwickau, subdued the destructive prejudices of 

' Dr. Thein, government physician of the town of Aub. 


the people. He found eighty-four patients' under piles of feather- 
beds, who, when pure air was admitted, breathed once more freely, 
and by a prudent cooling system, all recovered easily, and with- 
out danger, one only excepted. His method reminds us of the 
old English treatment.^ The disease was confined entirely to 
Roettingen ; it did not make its appearance anywhere beyond the 
gates of this little town. On the fifth of December, however, clear, 
frosty weather set in ; from that time no new cases occurred, and 
all traces of this Roettingen sweating fever, which was never 
either preceded or followed by miliary fever in any part of Tran- 
conia, have from that time disappeared. 

The resemblance of this fever to the English Sweating Sickness 
is manifest, and is proved even by the short (p7ihj ten days^) dura- 
tion of the visitation, which, as we have stated, is a most essential 
charactesistic of the English sweating epidemic, at least as it ap- 
peai-ed in Germany ; the miliary epidemics always have lasted a 
much longer period. But if we confine ourselves merely to the 
symptoms of the disease, we shall find, that in the E-oettingen 
sweating fever, there are, throughout, none that can be consider- 
ed essential, except the paIpitatio?i of the heart, accompanied with 
anguish, the profuse persjnration, and the rheumatic pains in the 
nape of the neck, which never were wanting in any case ; and the 
very same symptoms are clearly and perceptibly to be discerned 
in like proportion as compared with others, in the representation of 
the English Sweating Sickness ; whereas, the eruptions were al- 
together as unessential as in the epidemic of the sixteenth century. 
The irritability of the skin, and tendency to dangerous metastases, 
were less marked in the Roettingen fever than in the English 
Sweating Sickness ; for the patients could, without injury, change 
their linen in the midst of the perspiration, which, in the English 
Sweating Sickness, could not have been done without fatal conse- 
quences ; but this difierence can easily be accounted for, from the 
greater degree of suffering in the latter disease than in the former. 
It only now remains to examine the duration of the disease, and 
here we plainly perceive that the principal paroxysm was over in 
the Roettingen epidemic within the first four and twenty hours, 

^ The whole number of cases and of deaths is not stated. Dr. Sinner found nine 
bodies, none of which had been opened, shortly before the cessation of the disease. 

2 Everything heating was avoided ; the air was cautiously purified, cooling beverage 
was given, and contrary to the method of Brown, at that time in vogue, few medicines 
such as valerian, spirits of hartshorn, Hoffman's drops, &c., were employed. Blisters 
were of service, and, likewise, under some circumstances, camphor. The convalescents 
were well nourished. 


at least when it was undisturbed by treatment ; and the sole 
symptom which continued until the sixth day — ^the increased per- 
spiration (we speak here only of perfectly pure cases) — could only 
reasonably be regarded as a sequela. The crisis did not occur all 
on a sudden, as in the English Sweating Sickness, but this can- 
not constitute any essential difference. 

We do not hesitate, therefore, to pronounce the Roettingen 
fever to have been the same disease as the English Siveating Sick- 
ness. To give, however, this phenomenon its proper interpret- 
ation — to have a clear conception of the causes which again drew 
down from the clouds, into the midst of Germany, this mist-born 
spectre of 1529, and allowed it to expend its brief fury upon a 
single place, is beyond the power of human wisdom. Science is 
not comprehensive enough to discover, in the crossings of these 
unknown comet-paths, the moving causes of this visitation of dis- 
ease. But as all insight into the works of nature must be pre- 
ceded by a strict investigation and search after phenomena in all 
countries, at all times, and under all circumstances of develop- 
ment, so an improved knowledge of diseases and of the whole hu- 
man system, will not fail to follow, when the investigations of 
epidemics throughout extensive periods have increased in number 
and success. 

The presetit age demands such a knowledge of medical men, 
whose vocation it is to investigate life minutely in all its hearings. 
It demands of them an historical pathology, and to this branch of 
the study of nature is the present ivork intended to contribute. 



Political Events. 

1461-1483. Louis XI. 

1485-1509. Henry VII. 

1493-1519. Maximilian I. Mer- 
cenary troops are introduced. 

1483-1498. Charles VIII. 

1483-1485. Eichard III. 

1483, October. First abortive at- 
tempt of the Earl of Hichmond 
(who had fled to Prance in 1471) 
against Eichard III. The Duke 
of Buckingham executed. 

1485. Eichmond obtains support 
from Charles VIII. 

1485, 25th July. Eichmond's de- 
parture from Havre. 

1485, 1st August. Landing at 
Milford Haven. 

1485. From the 1st to the 22nd of 
August, march from Milford 
Haven to Lichfield and Bos- 

1485, 22nd August. The battle of 
Bosworth. Eichard III. falls. 
The Earl of Eichmond becomes 
king, under the name of Henry 

1485, 28th August. Henry's entry 
into London. 

1485, 30th October. Henry's coro- 

1481-1492. The wars of Ferdinand 
the Catholic, against the Sa- 

1495. Useless war for the suc- 

FiRST Visitation of the Sweating 

1478-1482. Swarms of locusts in 
the south of Europe. 

1480-1485. Wet years. 

1483. Overflow of the Severn (the 
great imter of the Duke of 

1480 and 1481. Famine in Ger- 
many and France. 

1477-1485. Glandular plague in 

1480, 1481. Encephalitis in Ger- 

1482. Febrile cerebritis in France, 
and epidemic pleuritis in Italy. 

1483. Glandular plague in Spain. 
1484 and 1485. Malignant fever 

in Germany and Switzerland. 
Plague in Spain. 

1485. In the beginning of August : 
eruption of the English Sweating 
Sickness, j)rol)ahly amongst Rich- 
mond's mercenary troops. It 
spread from west to east, and then 
in a contrary direction. 

1485 . The en d of August, in Oxford. 

1485. 21^^ Septemher till the early 
part of October, in London. 

1485. The middle of November, in 

1486, \st January. Termination 
of the first epidemic Sweating 

1486. Epidemic scurvy in Ger- 
many. Plague in Spain. 



Political Events. 

cession of Charles VIII. against 
Alfonso II. (who died in 1495), 
and Ferdinand II. of Naples. 
The conquest of the kingdom 
was again immediately relin- 

First Visitation. 

1488-1490. Plague in Spain. 

1490. First eruption of petechial 
fever in Granada, in the army of 
Ferdinand the Catholic. 

1495. Eruption of the syphilitic 
pestilence at Naples, among the 
mercenary army of Charles YIII. 

1499. Great plague in London. 

1485-1509. Henry VII. 

1501. His eldest son, Arthur, 
marries Catherine of Arragon, 
daughter of Ferdinand the 

1502. Prince Arthur dies. Prince 
Henry (VIII.), second son of 
Henry VIL, is afl&anced to 
Catherine of Arragon. 

The internal condition of England 
is altered by Henry VII. The 
towns begin to rise in import- 
ance, and the sciences to become 
diffused. A rigorous and unjust 
financial system. 

1498-1515. Louis XII. 

1501. conquers Naples in con- 
junction with the Spaniards, and 
is by them 

1504. expelled thence. He estab- 
lishes his poAver in Upper Italy. 

1511. Pope Julius 11. (1503-1513) 
forms the sacred leasjue against 
France, into which enters like- 
wise, in 1512, Henry VIII. 
The French lose their power in 

1504. Isabella of Castile dies. 
Philip I. of Austria, her daugh- 
ter Johanna's husband, succeeds 
her, his son, Charles V., having 
been born in 1500. 

Secostd Visitation. 

1500-1503. Mould-spots (signa- 
cula) in Germany and France. 

1500. Comet. 

1500. Mortality among cattle in 

1502. Very extensive destruction 
of cultivation in Germany by 
blights of caterpillars. 

1503. Glandular plague, and de- 
structive epidemics in Germany 
and France. 

1504. Plague in Spain. 

1504 and 1505. Encephalitis, pu- 
trid fever, and malignant pneu- 
monia in Germany. 

1505. Plague in Portugal. 

1505. First epidemic petechial 
fever in Italy. The morbid 
activity of the organism showed 
a decided determination towards 
the skin during all this period. 

1505. Moist summer. Lament- 
able moral state of England. 

1506. The summer : the Sweating 
Sickness hreaks out in London, 
and continues to a mvoderate ex- 
tent, being confined to England, 
U7itil the autumn. This second 
visitation is the mildest of all, 
and the old English method of 
treatment proves effectual every- 

20 * 



Political Events. 

1508. PhHip I. dies. 
1516. rerdiuand the Catholic 

Second Visitation. 

1506-1508. Pestilential epidemics 

in Spain. 
1508. Swarms of locusts in Spain. 

1509-1547. Henry VIII. 

1515-1547. Francis I. iaimediately 
attacks ]\Iilan again, and con- 

1515. the Swiss, in the battle of 
Marignano. Keeps possession 
of Milan and establishes the 
French dominion in Italy until 
the year 1522. 

1516. Cardinal Wolsey changes 
the policy of England in favour 
of Francis I., 

1520. then of Charles V. 
1513-1522. Leo X., against France. 

Promotes, by a new bull of in- 
dulgences, the outbreak of the 

1517. 31st of October, Luther 
commences the Reformation. 

1519. 12th January, the Emperor 

Maximilian I. dies. 
1519-1556. Charles V. 

1521. Imperial diet at Worms. 
1517. May : Insurrections of the 

operatives in London. 

1517. In the autumn and winter, 
Henry A^III. frequently changes 
the residence of his Court in 
consequence of the Sweating 
Sickness and the Plague. 

1518. 11th February, Queen Mary 
is born. 

1518. The College of Physicians 
in London is founded by Lin- 

1521. Henry VIII. opposes Lu- 
ther, and obtains the title of 

Third Visitation. 

1515. Pestilential epidemics in 

1516. Comet. 

1517. Unproductive,but not moist 

1510. Great influenza (Coque- 
luche) throughout France, and 
probably to a still further ex- 
tent. Plague in the north of 

1517. In the early months epi- 
demic trachseitis and oesophagitis 
(diphtheritis) in Holland, last- 
ing only eleven days. This epi- 
demic extends tovrards the south, 
and appears in the same summer 
at Basle. 

1517. On the 16th June, earth- 
qualte in Swabia (and Spain). 

1517. Encephalitis and other in- 
flammatory fevers in Germany. 

1517. In July, outbreak in London 
of the tliird visitation of epidemic 
sweating sickness; it spreads 
with great malignity all over 
England, and among the English 
at Calais ; in the sixth ireek it 
attains its greatest violence, and 
terminates in Decemher. Am- 
monius, of Lucca, and many dis- 
tinguished and learned persons 
in Oxford and Camhridge, are 
carried off by it. 

1517. In December, immediately 
after the Sweating Sickness, a 
plague occurs in England, and 
lasts all the winter. 



Political Events. 

"Defender of the Faith." 
{^Thomas 3fore.) 

Third Visitation. 

1517. Small-pox breaks out in 

1524. October, Francis I. passes 
Mont Cenis, and is 

1525. beaten at Pavia and cap- 

1526. 14th January. Peace of 

1526. Clement VII. (1523-1534) 
becomes the head of the Holy 
League against the Emperor. 

1527. 6th May. Eome is van- 
quished by the imperial army 
and sacked. 

1528. A French army, under Lau- 
trec, conquers the greatest part 
of Italy, and commences 

1528. 1st May, the siege of Naples. 

Lautrec dies in August. 
1528. 29th August, the siege of 

Naples is raised. The remains 

of the French army are made 


1528. Charles Y. challenges Fran- 
cis I. to single combat. 

1529. 5th August, Francis I. con- 
cludes the unfavourable peace 
of Cambray. Termination of 
the French dominion in Italy. 
The Reformation in England is 

1527. Scruples of Henry VIII. 
respecting his marriage with 
Catherine of Arragon. Various 
negociations on the subject in 
the following years. Cardinal 
Wolsey falls into disgrace. 
Thomas More becomes chan- 

1528. Henry VIII. retires to 

Fourth Vtsitatiok. 

1524. Great plague at Milan. 
1527. Inundations in Upper Italy. 
1527. 11th August, a comet. 

1527. Plague in the imperial army 
in Italy, after the sacking of 
Eome ; and in AVittemberg. 

1528-1534. Tears of famine, with 
a prevalence of moisture and 

1528. Eepeated inundations. Con- 
tinual south winds and summer 
fogs in Italy. Second great 
epidemic petechial fever there. 

1528. Destruction of the French 
army before Naples by a pesti- 
lential Spotted Fever. 

1528. Cold spring and moist sum- 
mer in France. 

1528-1532. Warm winters, moist 
summers. Repeated failures of 
harvest, and great famines in 
that country. 

1528. The Trousse-galant carries 
off a fourth part of the inhabit- 
ants of France in this and the 
following years. 

1528. Wet and mild winter. Moist 
summer with fogs. Failure in 
crops, and famine in England. 

1528. At the end of May: out- 
hreaJc in London of the Fourth- 
epidemic Sweating Sickness. It 
spreads ivith great malignity, and 
loith much disturbance of social 
life, all over JEngland ; carries 
off many distinguished persons, 
and terminates in the loiiiter. 
This year it remains confined 



Political Events. 

Tytynliangar in consequence of 
the Sweating Sickness. 

1532. Separation of the king from 
Catherine. Mary is excluded 
from the government. 

1533. January. Anna Boleyn be- 
comes queen. The Reformation 
is introduced. 

1535. Thomas More and Fisher 
are executed. 

1536. Anna Boleyn is executed. 
Jane Seymour becomes queen. 
Dies 1537. 

1537. Anne of Cleves becomes 
queen. Separation after six 

1541. Catherine Howard, queen, 

and executed one year and six 

montlis afterwards. 
1544. Catherine, queen. 
1547. 13th December, Henry 

VIII. dies. 
1521. Plots of the Iconoclasts' in 

Zwickau and Wittenberg. 
1523-1525. Peasant war. On the 

15th May, battle of Franken- 

1529. Imperial Diet at Spires. 
1529. 22nd September — 16th 

October, the Turks befoi'e 


1529. 2ud October, assemblage of 
the lieformers in Marburg. 

1530. 25th June, surrender of the 
Augsburg confession. Severe 
decrees against the Protestants. 

1531. League of the Protestant 
princes at Schmalkalden. Con- 
tinued danger from the Turks. 

1532. Imperial Diet at Nurem- 
berg. The Protestants obtain 

1533-1535. Excesses of the Ana- 
baptists at Miinster. 

FouKTH Visitation. 

to England, and does not return 
in the folloioing year. 

1528. Continual south-east winds. 
Grreat drought. Swarms of lo- 
custs and fiery meteors in the 
north of Germany. 

1529. Earthquake in Upper Italy. 
Sanguineous rain at Cremona. 
A comet in July and August. 

1529. Mild winter in Germany. 
The spring begins in February. 
Great moisture throughout the 
summer. General dearth in 
March . Disease among the por- 
poises in the Baltic. Unwhole- 
someuess of the river fish in the 
north of Germany. Disease 
among birds. Languor resem- 
bling syncope in Pomerania. 
Frequent suicides in the March. 
In the middle of June a flood 
of rain lasting four days (tor- 
rent of St. Vitus) in the south 
of Germany. On the 10th of 
August, a universal tempest. 
24th of August, and the follow- 
ing days, great heat. 

1529. 25^^ July, outhreah of the 
ejyidemie Sweating Sickness in 
Hamhurgh. Termination on the 
5th August. On the 19ith July 
in Lilheck. On the IMh August 
in Zwickau. About the \st Sep- 
tember the English Sweating 
Sickness appears to spread uni' 
versally all over Germany. On 
the ^Ist August in Stettin ; ter- 
mination on the 8th September, 
On the 1st September in Dantzic ; 
termination on the Qth Septem- 
ber. On the 'I-ith August in 
Strasburg. On the 5th, Qth, and 
7th September in Cologne, Augs- 
burg, and Erancfort on the 



Political Events. 

1536. The Sclimalkaldic league is 

1538. The Catholic States establish 

the sacred league at Nuremberg. 
1540. Pavil III. (1534-1550) con- 

firms the order of the Jesuits, 

founded in 1534 by Ignatius 

1519-1541. Conquest of Mexico, 

Peru, Chili, &c. 

Fourth Visitation. 

Maine. About the 20th Sep- 
tember in Vienna and among the 
besieging TurJcs. On the '11th 
September in Amsterdam. Ter- 
mination on the \st October in 
Antwerp and the rest of the 
Netherlands ; simultaneouslg, at 
the end of September, in Den- 
onarTc, Sweden, and Norway. At 
the commencement of November 
a universal cessation of the epi- 
demic Sweating SicTcness. 

1530. In October, overflow of the 
Tiber. Bursting of the dykes 
and sudden inundations in Hol- 
land, which were repeated in 

1531. 1st of August to 3rd Sep- 
tember, the comet of Halley. 

1532. Prom 2nd October to 8th 
November, and 

1533. Prom the middle of June to 
August, comets. 

1534. Termination of the years of 
scarcity, durhig which malignant 
fevers prevailed in circumscribed 
localities throughout Europe. 

1542. Maurice Duke of Saxony 
renounces the league of Schmal- 

1542. The imperial army which 
opposes the Turks in Hungary, 
under Joachim II. of Branden- 
burg, is destroyed by sickness. 

1546. The 18th February, Luther 

1546. Charles Y. takes the field 
against the Protestants, pro- 
claims the Elector, John Fre- 
derick, and Landgrave Philip of 
Hesse, outlaws. G-ains 

Fifth Visitation. 

1538. Epidemic dysentery in 

1540. The hot summer. The forests 
take fire spontaneously. 

1541. Plague in Constantinople. 

1542. Swarms of locusts in the 
south of Europe, and plague in 
Hungary during the war of the 
Turks in that kingdom. 

1543. Plague and petechial fever 
in G-ermany, Metz. 

1545 and 1546. Trousse-galant in 
France, of which 10,000 Eng- 
lish die at Boulogne. 



Political Evexts. 

1547. 24th April, the battle of 
Muhlberg. Raises 

1548. Duke Maurice to the elec- 
torate of Saxony, and prescribes 
the interim, which is not accept- 
ed by Magdeburg. 

1551. Magdeburg declared to be 
under the imperial ban, and be- 
sieged in vain by the Saxons. 

1552. Henry II. of France (1547- 
1559), in alliance with the Pro- 
testant princes, takes Metz, 
Toul, and Verdun. 

1552. The treaty of Passau secures 
to the Protestants equal rights 
with the Catholics. 

1547-1553. Edward VI. nine years 
old. The Duke of Somerset 
governs the kingdom as Pro- 
tector. The Reformation is 
favoured, and makes progress. 

1553. Mary persecutes the Pro- 
testants, and in 1558 loses 

1556. Charles V. abdicates, and 
dies on the 11th of September, 
1558, in Spain. 

Fifth Visitation. 

1546. Plague in the Netherlands 
and France. 

1547. Petechial fever in the im- 
perial army. 

1547-1551. Mould spots and red 
Avater in the north of Germany. 

1549. Caterpillars destroy the 
herbage, and a mortality occurs 
among cattle in Germany. The 
21st of September an aurora 

1549 and 1550. Malignant fever 
(petechial fever ?) in the north 
of Germany. 

1551. Dry and cold spring; hot 
and wet summer. Inundations, 
earthquakes, meteors, mock suns, 
great tempests, summer fogs. 

1551. Malignant fever in Swabia : 
plague in Spain. Influenza. 

1551. In the spring, stinking 
mists on the banks of the Severn. 

1551. On the 15th of April out- 
break qfthejifth epidemic Sweat- 
ing Fever in Shrewsbury on the 
Severn. It gradually spreads 
with stinTcing mists all over Eng- 
land, and on the Qth of July 
reaches London. The mortality 
is very considerable. Foreigners 
are unaffected, but Fnglishmen 
in foreign countries sicken with 
the Fnglish Sweating Sickness. 
The epidemic terminates on the 
SOth of September. 

1552 and 1553. Malignant fever 
in Germany and Switzerland. 



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In the fereful tyme of the sweate (ryghte honourable) many resorted vnto me 

for coimseil, among whoe some beinge my frendes & aquaintance, desh-ed me 

to write vnto them some litle counseil howe to gouerne themselues therin : 

saiyng also that I should do a greate pleasure to all my frendes and contrimen, 

if I would deuise at my laisure some thig, whiche from tyme to tyme might 

remaine, wherto men might in such cases haue a recourse & present refuge at 

all nedes, as the they had none. At whose requeste, at that tyme I wrate 

diuerse counseiles so shortly as I could for the present necessite, whiche they 

bothe vsed and dyd geue abrode to many others, & further appoynted in my 

self to fulfill (for so much as laye in me) the other parte of their honest request 

for the time to come. The whiche the better to execute and brynge to passe, 

I spared not to go to all those that sente for me, bothe poore, and riche, day 

and night. And that not only to do the that ease that I could, &, to instructe 

the for their recouery : but to note also throughly, the cases and circumstaunces 

of the disease in diuerse persons, and to vnderstande the nature and causes of 

the same fully, for so much as might be. Therefore as I noted, so I wrate as 

laisiire then serued, and finished one boke in Englishe, onely for Englishe me 

not lerned, one other in latine for men of lerninge more at large, and generally 

for the help of the which hereafter should haue nede, either in this or other 

coutreis, that they may lerne by our harmes. This I had thoughte to haue set 

furth before Christmas, & to haue geue to your lordshippe at new-yeres tide, 

but that diuerse other businesses letted me. Neuertheles that which then coulde 

not be done cometh not now out of season, although it be neuer so simple, so 

it may do ease hereafter, which as I trust this shal, so for good wil I 

geue and dedicate it vnto your good Lordshippe, trustyng 

the same will take this with as good a mind, as 

I geue it to your honour, whiche our Lorde 

preserue and graunt long 

to continue. 

At London the first of Aprill. 






Man beyng borne not for his owne vse and cGmoditie alone, but also for the 
commo benefite of many, (as reason wil and al good authoures write) he whiche 
in this world is worthy to lyue, ought al wayes to haue his hole minde and in- 
tente geuen to profite others. Whiche thynge to shewe in efFecte in my selfe, 
although by fortune some waies I haue ben letted, yet by that whiche fortune 
cannot debarre, some waies again I haue declared. For after certein yeres 
beyng at cambrige, I of the age of xx. yeres, partly for mine exercise and profe 
what I coulde do, but chefely for certein of my very fredes, dyd translate out 
of Latine into Englishe certein workes, hauyngnothynge els so good to gratifie 
theim w'. Wherof one of iS. Clirysostome de modo orandi deum,\h3ii is, of y° 
manner to praye to god, I sent to one my frende then beyng in the courte. One 
other, a woorke of Erasmus de vera theolocjia, the true and redy waye to reade 
the scripture, I dyd geue to Maister Augustine Stiwarde Alderman of Nor- 
M'iche, not in the ful as the authore, but abbreuiate for his only purpose 
to whome I sent it, Leuyng out many subtile thinges, made rather for great & 
learned diuines, the for others. The thirde was the paraphrase of the same 
Erasmus vpon the Epistle of S. Jude, whiche I translated at the requeste of 
one other my deare frende. 

These I did in Englishe the rather because at that tyme men ware not so 
geuen all to Englishe, but that they dyd fauoure & mayteine good learning con- 
teined in tongues & sciences, and did also study and apply diligently the same 
the_selues. Therfore I thought no hurte done. Sence y' tyme diuerse other 
thynges I haue written, but with entente neuer more to write in the Englishe 
tongue, partly because the comoditie of that which is so written, passeth not the 
compasse of Englande, but remaineth enclosed within the seas, and partly be- 
cause I thought that labours so taken should be halfe loste among them whiche 
sette not by learnyng. Thirdly for that I thought it beste to auoide the iudge- 
ment of the multitude, from whome in maters of learnyng a man shalbe forced 
to dissente, in disprouyng that whiche they most approue, & approuyng that 
whiche they moste disalowe. Fourthly for that the common settyng furthe and 
printig of euery foolishe thyng in englishe, both of phisicke vnperfcctly, and 
other matters vndiscretly diminishe the grace of thynges learned set furth in 
thesame. But chiefely, because I wolde geue none example or comforte to my 
countrie men, (who I wolde to be now, as liore tnfore they haue bene, compar- 
able in learnyng to men of other countries) to stonde oncly in the Englishe 


tongue, but to leaue the simplicite of thesame, and to procede further in many 
and diuerse knoweleges bothe in tongues and sciences at home and in vniuersi- 
ties, to the adournyng of the comon welthe, better seruice of their kyng, & 
great pleasure and conimodite of their owne selues, to what kinde of life so 
euer they shold applie them. Therfore whatsoeuer sence that tyme I minded 
to Avi'ite, I wrate y° same either in greke or latine. As firste of all certein com- 
mentaries vpon certein bokes of William framingha, maister of art in Cam- 
brige, a man of great witte, memorie, diligence and learnyng, brought vp in 
thesame scholes in Englande that I was, euer fro his beginnyng vntil his death. 
Of the which bokes, ij. o{ cotinetia (or cotinence) werin prose, y°reste in metre 
or verse of diuerse kindes. One a comforte for a blinde ma, entitled ad Aemi- 
lianum ccBcurh consolatio, one other Ecpyrosis, sen incendiu sodomoru, the burn- 
yng of Sodome. The thirde Laurentius, expressyng the tormentes of Saincte 
Laurence. The fourthe, Idololatria, Idolatrie, not after the trade and veine of 
scripture (wherein he was also very well exercised) but conformable to scrip- 
ture and after the ciuile and humane learnyng, declarjTig them to worshippe 
Mars, that warre, or fight : Venus, that lyue incontinently : Pluto, that folowe 
riches couetousely ; and so forth through all vices vsed in his time. The fiueth 
boke Arete, vertue : the sixth, Epigrames, conteined in two bokes, whiche by 
an epistle of his owne hand before y" boke yet remainyng, he dedicated vnto 
me, purposyng to haue done many more prety thynges, but that cruell death 
preueted, and toke him away wher he and I was borne at Norwiche, in the yere 
of our Lord M.d.xxxvij. the xxix. dale of September, beynge then of the age 
of XXV. yeres, vij. Monethes, and vj. dales, a greate losse of so notable a yonge 
man. These workes at his death he willed to comme to my handes, by which 
occasion after I had viewed the, and perceiued them ful of al kyndes of learn- 
yng, thinkyng the no workes for all me to vnderstande with out helpe, but such 
as were wel sene in all sortes of authours : I endeuoured my selfe partely for 
the helpe of others, & partly for mine owne exercise, to declare vpon theim 
the profite of my studie in ciuile and humane learnynge, and to haue before 
mine eyes as in a worke (which was alwaies my delyght) how muche I had 
profited in the same. Thys so done, I ioyned euery of my commentaries to 
euery of hys saied bokes, faier written by Nicolas Pergate puple to the saied 
Maister FramjTigham, myndyng after the iudgement of learned men had in 
thesame, to haue set theim furthe in prynte, if it had ben so thought good to 
theim. For whyche cause, at my departynge into Italle, I put an Epistle be- 
fore theym dedicatorye to the right Reuerend father in God Thomas Thirlbye, 
now Bishoppe of Norwiche, because thesame maister Framyngham loued hym 
aboue others. He after my departure deliuered the bokes to the reuerende 
father in god Jho Skippe, late bishop of Hereforde, then to D. Thirtle, tutor to 
the sayd maister framynha, fro him to syr Richard Morisine, now ambassadoure 
for y° kinges maiestie with theperour, then to D. Tailour Deane of Lincolne, 
and syr Thomas Smithe, secretarie after to y" kynges Maiestie, all great learned 
men. Fro these to others they wente, among whome the bokes died, (as I sup- 
pose,) or els be closely kept, that after my death they may be setfurthe in the 
names of them which now haue the, as their Morkes. Howe soeuer it be, wel I 
knowe that at my returne out of Italie (after vj. yeres continuance ther) into 
Englad, I coulde neuer vnderstand wher they wer, although I bothe diligently 
and desirousely sought the. After these I translated out of Greke into Latine 
a litle boke of Nicephorus, declarynge howe a man maye in joraiynge confesse 
hym selfe, which after I dyd geue vnto Jho Groma bacheler in arte, a yong 


man in yeres, but in witte & learnyng for his tyme, of great expectatio. That 
done I beganne a chronicle of the citie of Norwiche, of the beginninge therof 
& thinges done ther fro time to time. The matere wherof yet rude and vn- 
digested lyeth by me, which at laisure I minde to polishe, and to make an end 
of that I haue begunne. And to be shorte, in phisicke diuerse thynges I haue 
made & settefurth in print bothe in Greke and Latine, not mindyng to do other 
wise, as I haue before said, al my life : For which cause al these thinges I haue 
rehei'sed, els sujDerfluous in this place. Yet see, meaning now to counseill a 
litle agajnist the sweatyng sickenes for helpe also of others, notwithstandyng 
my former purpose, two thynges compell me, in writynge therof, to returne 
agayne to Englishe, Necessite of the matter, & good wyl to my countrie, frendes, 
& acquaintance, whiche here to haue required me, to whome I thmke my selfe 

Necessite, for that this disease is almoste pecuHar vnto vs Englishe men, and 
not common to all men, folowyng vs, as the shadowe the body, in all countries, 
albeit not at al times. Therfore compelled I am to vse this our Englishe 
tongue as best to be vnderstande, and moste nedeful to whome it most foloweth, 
most behoueth to haue spedy remedie, and often tymes leaste nyghe to places 
of succource and comforte at lerned mennes handes : and leaste nedefull to be 
setfurthe in other tongues to be vndei'stand generally of all persons, whome it 
either haunteth not at all, or els very seldome, as ones in an age. Thinkynge 
it also better to write this in Englishe after mine own meanyng, then to haue 
it translated out of my Latine by other after their misunderstandyng. 

Good wyll to my countrie frendes and acquaintance, sejiige them wyth out 
defence yelde vnto it, and it ferefully to inuade the, furiousely handle them, 
spedily oppresse them, vnmercyfully choke them, and that in no small numbers, 
and such persons so notably noble in birthe, goodly conditions, graue sobrietie, 
singular wisedoe, and great learnynge, as Henry Duke of Suffolke, and the 
lorde Charles his brother, as fewe hath bene sene lyke of their age : an heuy & 
pitifull thyng to here or see. So that if by onely learned men in phisicke & 
not this waye also it should be holpen, it were nedeful almost halfe so many 
learned men to be redy in euery toune and citie, as their should be sweatynge 
sicke folkes. Yet this notwithstandynge, I wyll euery man not to refuse the 
counseill of the present or nighe phisicen learned, who male, accordyng to the 
place, persone, cause, & other circustances, geue more particular counseil at 
nede, but in any wise exhorte him to seke it with all diligence. To this enter- 
prise also amonge so many learned men, not a litle stirreth me the gentilnes 
and good willes of al sortes of men, which I haue well proued heretofore by my 
other former bokes. Mindynge therefore with as good a will to geue my 
counseil in this, and trusting for no lesse gentlenes in the same, I wyll plainly 
and in English for their better vnderstandynge to whome I write, firste declare 
the beginnynge, name, nature, and signes of the sweatynge sickenes. Next, 
the causes of the same. And thirdly, how to preserue men fro it, and remedy 
them whe they haue it. 

The hccjinmjng of the disease. — In the j'ere of our Lorde God M.CCCC.lxxxv. 
shortly after the vij. daye of august, at whiche tyme kynge Henry the seuenth 
arriued at Milford in walles, out of Fraunce, and in the firste yere of his reigne, 
ther chaunced a disease among the people, lastyng the reste of that monethe & 
all September, which for the soubdeine sharpenes and vnwont cruelnes passed 
the pestilence. For this commonly geueth iij. or iiij. often vij. sumtyme ix. as 
that firste at Athenes whiche Thucidides describeth in his seconde boke, sum- 


tyme xj. and sumtyme xiiij. dayes respecte, to whome it vexeth. But that im- 
msdiatly killed some in opening theire Avindowes, some in plaieng with children 
in their strete dores, some in one hour, many in two it desti'oyed, & at the 
longest, to the that merilye dined, it gaue a sorowful Supper. As it founde 
them so it toke them, some in sleape some in wake, some in mirthe some in care, 
some fasting & some ful, some busy and some idle, and in one house sometyme 
three sometime fine, sometyme seuen sometyme eyght, sometyme more some 
tyme all, of the whyche, if the haulfe in euerye Towne escaped, it was thoughte 
great fauour. How, or wyth what maner it toke them, with Avhat grieffe, and 
aecidentes it helde theym, herafter the I wil declare, whe I shal co'me to shewe 
the signes therof. In the mene space, know that this disease (because it most 
did stand in sweating from the beginning vntil the endyng) was called here, 
the Sweating sickenesse : and because it fii'ste beganne in Englande, it was 
named in other countries, the englishe sweat. Yet some coniecture that it, or 
the like, hath bene before scene among the Grckes in the siege of Troie. In 
theperor Octauius warres at Cantabria, called nowe Biscaie, in Hispaine : and 
in the Turkes, at the Rhodes. How true that is, let the aucthours loke : how 
true thys is, the best of our Chronicles sliewith, & of the late begonne disease 
the freshe memorie yet confirmeth. But if the name wer now to be geuen, and 
at my libertie to make the same : I would of the maner and space of the dis- 
ease (by cause the same is no sweat only, as herafter I will declare, & in the 
spirites) make the name JEphemera, which is to sai, a feuer of one natural dai. 
A feuer, for the feruor or burning, cbieth & sweating feure like. Of one 
naturall day, for that it lasteth but the time of xxiiij. houres. And for a dis- 
tinction from the commune Ephemera, that Galene writeth of, comming both 
of other causes, and wyth vnlike paines, I wold putte to it either Englishe, for 
that it foUoweth somoche English menne, to who it is almoste proper, & also 
began here : or els pestilent, for that it cometh by infection & putrefaction, 
otherwise then doth the other Ej'hemera. Whiche thing I suppose may the 
better be done, because I se straunge and no english names both in Latine and 
Greke by commune vsage taken for Englishe. As in Latin, Feure, Quotidia, 
Tertian, Quartane, Aier, Infection, Pestilence, Uomite, Person, Reines, Ueines, 
Peines, Chamere, Numbre, &c. a litle altered by the commune pronunciation. 
In Greke, Pleuresie, Ischiada, Hydrops, Apostema, Phlegma, and Chole : called 
by the vulgare pronunciatio, Schiatica, Dropsie, Impostume, Phleume, & Choler : 
Gyne also, and Boutyre, Sciourel, Mouse, Rophe, Phrase, Paraphrase, & cephe, 
wherof cometh Chancers couercephe, in the romant of the Rose, writte and 
pronouced comoly, kerchief in y' south, & courchief in the north. Thereof 
euery head or principall thing, is comonlye called cephe, pronouced & writte, 
chief. Uery many other thei'e be in our commune tongue, whiche here to re- 
hearse were to long. These for an example shortelye I haue here noted. But 
for the name of this disease it maketh now no matter, the name of Sweat beyng 
Comoly vsed. Let vs therfore returne to the thing, which as occasio & cause 
serued, came againe in the, the xxii. yeare of the said Kyng Henry the 
seuenth. Aftre that, in the yeare M.D.xvii. the ix. yeare of Kyng Henry the 
viii, and endured from July, vnto y" middest of Decebre. The iiii tyme, in the 
yeare M.D.xxviii. the xx. yeare of thesaied Kyng, beginning in thende of May, 
& continuing Jvme and July. The fifth tyme of this fearful Ei^hemera of Eng- 
lande, and pestilent sweat, is this in the yeare M.D.LI, of oure Lorde GOD, 
and the fifth yeare of oure Souereigne Lorde king Edwarde the sixth, begin- 
ning at Shrewesbur)' in the middest of April, proceadinge with greate mortalitie 


to Ludlowe, Prestene, and other places in Wales, then to Westchestre, Couentre, 
Drenfoorde, and other tounes in the Southe, and suche as were in and aboute 
the Avay to London, whether it came notablie the seuenth of July, and there 
continuing sore, with the losse of vii. C. Ixi. from the ix. day vntil the xvi. daye, 
besides those that died in the vii. and viii. dayes, of who no registre was kept, 
fro that it abated vntil the xxx. day of the same, with the losse of C. xlii. more. 
Then ceassing there, it wente from thence throughe al_the east partes of Eng- 
land into the Northe vntill the ende of Auguste, at whiche tyme it diminished, 
and in the ende of Septembre fully ceassed. 

This disease is not a Sweat onely, (as it is thought & called) but a feuer, as 
I saied, in the spirites by putrefaction venemous, with a fight, trauaile, and 
laboure of nature againste the infection receyued in the spirites, Avhervpon by 
chaunce foloweth a Sweate, or issueth an humour compelled by nature, as also 
chanceth in other sicknesses whiche consiste in humours, when they be in their 
state, and at the worste in certein dayes iudicial, aswel by vomites, bledinges, 
& fluxes, as by sweates. That this is true, the self sweates do shewe. For as 
in vtter businesses, bodies y' sore do labour, by trauail of the same are forced 
to sweat, so in inner diseases, the bodies traueiled & labored by the, are moued 
to the like. In which labors, if nature be strog & able to thrust out the poiso 
by sweat (not otherwise letted) y' perso escapeth : if not, it dieth. That it is 
a feuer, thus I haue partly declared, and more wil streight by the notes of the 
disease, vnder one shewing also by thesame notes, signes, and short tariance of 
the same, that it consisteth in the spirites. First by the peine in the backe, or 
shoulder, peine in the extreme partes, as arme, or legge, with a flusshing, or 
wind, as it semeth to certeine of the pacientes, flieng in the same. Secondly 
by the grief in the liuer and the nigh stomacke. Thirdely, by the peine in the 
head, & madnes of the same. Fourthly by the passion of the hart. For the 
flusshing or wynde comming in the vtter and extreame partes, is nothing els 
but the spirites of those same gathered together, at the first entiing of the euell 
aire, agaynste the infection therof, & flyeng thesame from place to place, for 
their owne sauegarde. But at the last infected, they make a grief where thei 
be forced, whiche comonly is in tharme or legge (the fartheste partes of theire 
refuge) the. backe or shulder: trieng ther first a brut as good souldiers, before 
they wil let their enemye come further into theire dominion. The other grefes 
be therefore in thother partes aforsaid <&: sorer, because the spirites be there 
most pletuous as in their founteines, whether alwaies thinfection desireth to go. 
For fro the liuer, the nigh stomack, braine, and harte, come all the iij. sortes, 
and kyndes of spirites, the gouernoures of oure bodies, as firste spronge there. 
But from the hart, the liuish spirites. In putrifieng wherof by the euel aier in 
bodies fit for it, the harte is oppressed. Whcrupon also foloweth a marueilous 
heauinesse, (the fifthe token of this disease.) and a desire to sleape, neuer con- 
tented, the senses in al partes beynge as they were bounde or closed vp, the 
partes therfore left heuy, vnliuishe, and dulle. Laste foloweth the shorte 
abidinge, a certeine Token of the disease to be in the spirites, as wel may be 
proued by the Uphemera that Galene writethe of, whiche because it consistethe 
in the Spirites, lasteth but one natural day. For as fire in hardes or straw, is 
sone in flambe & sone oute, euen so heate in the spirites, either by simple 
distemperature, or by infection and putrefaction therein conceyued, is sone 
in flambe and sone out, and soner for the vehemencye or greatnes of the 
same, whiche without lingering, consumeth sone the light matter, contrary to 
al other diseases restyng in humoures, wherin a fire ones kindeled, is not so sone 


put out, no more then is the same in moiste woode, or fat Sea coles, as M^ell by 
the particular Example of the pestilence, (of al others mostlyke vnto this) may 
be declared, whyche by that it stadeth in euel humors, tarieth as I said, some- 
tyme, from iiij. vii. ix. & xj. vntill xiiij. dayes, differentlie from this, by reason 
therof, albeit by infection most lyke to this same. Thus vnder one laboure 
shortelie I haue declared — both what this disease is, wherein it consisteth, howe 
and with what accidentes it grieueth and is differente from the Pestilence, and 
the propre signes, and tokens of the same, without the whiche, if any do sweate, 
I take theym not to Sweate by this Sickenesse, but rather by feare, heate of the 
yeare, many clothes, greate exercise, aiFection, excesse in diete, or at the worst, 
by a smal cause of infection, and lesse disposition of the bodi to this sicknes. 
So that, insomoche as the body was nat al voide of matter, sweate it did when 
infection came : but in that the mattere was not greate, the same coulde neyther 
be perilous nor paineful as in others, in whom was greater cause. 

TJie causes. — Hetherto I haue shewed the beginning, name, nature, & signes 
of this disease: nowe I will declare the causes, which be ij. : infectio, & impure 
spirites in bodies corrupt by repletio. Infection, by thaire receiuing euel 
qualities, distepring not only y° hete, but the hole substace therof, in putrifieng 
thesame, and that generally ij. waies. By the time of the yere vnnatural, & 
by the nature & site of the soile & region — wherunto maye be put the particular 
accidentes of this same. By the time of the yeare vnnaturall, as if winter be 
hot & drie, somer hot and moist : (a fit time for sweates) the spring colde and 
drye, the fall hot & moist. To this mai be ioyned the euel disposition by con- 
stellation, whiche hath a great power & dominion in al erthly thinges. By 
the site & nature of the soile & regio, many wayes. First & specially by euel 
mistes & exhalatios drawen out of the grounde by the siine in the heate of the 
yeare, as chanced amog the Grekes in the siege of Troy, wherby died firste 
dogges & mules, after, me in great numbre : & here also in Englad in this 
m.d.lj. yeare, the cause of this pestilent sweate, but of dyuers nature. Whiche 
miste in the countrie wher it began, was sene flie fro toune to toune, with suche 
a stincke in morninges & eueninges, that me could scarcely abide it. The by 
dampes out of the earth, as out of Galenes Barathru, or the poetes auernu, or 
aornu, the dampes wherof be such, that thei kil y' birdes flieg ouer them. Of 
like dampes, I heard in the north coiitry in cole pits, wherby the laboring me 
be streight killed, except before the houre of coming therof (which thei know by 
y° flame of their cadle) thei auoid t?ie groud. Thirdly by putrefactio or rot in 
groudes aftre great flouddes, in carions, & in dead men. After great fluddes, 
as happened in y" time of Gallien theperor at rome, in Achaia & Libia, wher the 
seas sodeinly did ouerflow y" cities nigh to y' same. And in the xi. yeare of 
Pelagius, when al the flouddes throughe al Italye didde rage, but chieflye Tihris 
at Rome, whiche in many places was as highe as the walles of the citie. 

In carios or dead bodies, as fortuned here in Englande vpon the sea banckes 
in the tyme of King Alured, or Alfrede ; (as some Chroniclers write) but in the 
time of king Ethebed after Sabellicus, by occasion of droAvned Locustes cast 
vp by the Sea, which by a wynde were driuen ovite of Fi'aunce thether. This 
locust is a flie in bignes of a manes thumbe, in colour broune, in shape some- 
what like a greshoppcr, hauing vi. fiete, so many wynges, two tiethe, & an 
hedde like a horse, and therfore called in Italy Caualleto, where ouer y" city of 
Padoa, in the yeare m.d.xiij. (as I remembre,) I, with manye more did see a 
swarme of theim, whose passage ouer the citie, did laste t\Yo hours, in breadth 
inestimable to euery man there. Here by example to note infection by deadde 


menne in Warres, either in rotting aboue the ground, as chaunced in Athenes 
by theim of Ethiopia, or els in beyng buried ouerly as happened at Bulloigne, 
in the yere M.D.xlv. the yeare aftre king Henrye theight had conquered the 
same, or by long continuance of an hoste in one place, it is more playne by 
dayly experience, then it neadeth to be shewed. Therefore I wil now go to the 
fourth especial cause of infectio, the pent aier, breaking out of the ground in 
yearthquakes, as chaunced atUenice in the first yeare of Andrea Dandulo, then 
Duke, the xxiiij. day of Januarye, and xx. hour after their computacion. By 
which infectio mani died, & many were borne before their time. The v. cause is 
close, & vnstirred aire, & therfore putrified or corrupt, out of old welles, holes 
in y" groud made for grain, wherof many I did se in & about Pesaro in Italy, 
by openig the aftre a great space, as both those coiitrime do cofesse, & also by- 
exaple is declared, for y" manye in openig the vnwarely be killed. Out of caues, 
& tobes also, as chauced first in the country of BabUonia, proceding aftre into 
Grece, and so to Rome, by occasion that y' souldiers of themperour Blarcus 
Antoninus, vpon hope of money, brake up a golden cofRne of Aiddius Cassius, 
spieg a litle hole therin, in the teple of Apollo in Seleucia, as Ammianus Marcel- 
linus writeth. To these mai be ioyned the particular causes of infectio, which 
I cal the accidentes of the place, augmenting thesame. As nigh to dwelling 
places, merishe & muddy groundes, puddles or donghilles, sinkes or canales, 
easing places or carions, deadde ditches or rotten groundes, close aier in houses 
or ualleis, with suche like. Thus muche for the firste cause. 

The second cause of this Englyshe Ephemera, I said were thimpure spirites in 
bodies corupt by repletio. Repletion I cal here, abundance of humores euel 
& maliciouse, from long time by litle & litle gathered by euel diete, remaining 
in the bodye, coming either by to moche meate, or by euel meate in qualitie, as 
infected frutes, meates of euel iuse or nutrimet ; or both ioyntly. To such 
spirites when the aire infectiue cometh cosonant, the be thei distepered, cor- 
rupted, sore handled, & oppressed, the nature is forced, & the disease engendred. 
But while I doe declare these impure spirites to be one cause, I must remoue 
your myndes fro spirites to humours, for that the spirites be fedde of the finest 
partes therof, & aftre bringe you againe to spirites where I toke you. And 
forsomuche as I haue not yet forgotten to whome I write, in this declaration I 
will leaue a part al learned & subtil reasos, as here void & vnmiete, & only vse 
suche as be most euident to whom I write, & easiest to be vnderstanden of the 
same : and at ones therwith shew also why it hauteth vs English men more 
the other nations. Therfore I passe ouer the vngetle sauoure or smell of the 
sweate, grosenes, colour, and other qualities of the same, the quantitie, the 
daunger in stopping, the maner in coming furthe redily, or hardly, hot or cold, 
the notes in the excremetes, the state longer or sorer, with suche others, which 
mai be tokes of corrupt humours & spirites, & onli wil stad upo iii. reasos de- 
claring y' same swet by gret repletio to be in vs not otherwise for al the euel 
aire apt to this disease, more the other natios. For as hereaftre I wil shew, & 
Gale cofirmeth, our bodies ca not sufii'e any thig or hurt by corrupt & infectiue 
causes, excejjt ther be in the a certel mater prepared apt & like to receiue it, 
els if one were sick, al shuld be sick, if in this countri, in al coiitres wher the 
infection came, which thIg we se doth not chace. For touching the first reaso, 
we se this sweting sicknes or pestilet Ephe7nera, to be oft in Englad, but neuer 
entreth Scotland, (except the borders) albeit thei both be ioinctly within the 
cGpas of on sea. The same begining here, hath assailed Brabant & the costes 
nigh to it, but neuer passed Germany, where ones it was in like facio as here, 


with great mortalitie, in the yere m.d.xxix. Cause wherof none other there is 
naturall, then the euell diet of these thre contries whiche destroy more meates 
and drynckes Avithoute al ordre, coueniet time, reaso, or necessite, the either 
Scotlande, or all other countries vnder the sunne, to the greate annoiance of 
their owne bodies and wittes, hinderance of theim which have nede, and great 
dearth and scarcitie in their comon welthes. Wherfore if Escidapius the in- 
uentour of phisike, y° sauer of me from death, and restorer to life, should re- 
tui'ne again ito this world, he could not saue these sortes of men, hauing so 
moche sweatyng stuffe, so many euill humoures laid vp in store, fro this dis- 
pleasante, feareful, & pestilent disease : except thei would learne a new lesson, 
& folowe a new trade. For other wise, neither the auoidyng of this countrie 
(the seconde reason) nor fleyng into others, (a commune refuge in other dis- 
eases) wyll preserue vs Englishe men, as in this laste sweate is by experience 
well proued in Cales, Antwerpe, and other places of Brabant, wher only our 
contrimen ware sicke, & none others, except one or ii. others of thenglishe diete, 
which is also to be noted. The cause hereof natural is onely this, that they 
caried ouer with the, & by lyke diete ther incresed that whiche was the cause 
of their disease. Wherefore lette vs asserteine our selues, that in what soeuer 
contrie lyke cause and matter is, there comrayng like aier and cause efficient, 
wil make lyke efFecte and disease in persos of agreable complexions, age, and 
diete, if the tyme also doe serue to these same, and in none others. These I 
putte, for that the tyme of the yere bote, makethe moche to the malice of the 
disease, in openynge the pores of the body, lettynge in the euill aier, resoluynge 
the humores and makynge them flowable, and disposing therfore the spirites 
accordyngly, besyde, that (as I shewed in the first cause of this pestilente 
sweate) it stirreth and draweth out of the erthe euill exhalations and mistes, to 
thinfection of the aier and displeasure of vs. Diet I put, for that they of the 
contrarie diete be not troubled with it at all. Age and complexion, for this, 
that although it spareth no age of bothe kyndes, nor no complexion but some 
it touchethe, yet for the most parte (wherby rules and reasones be alwayes to be 
made) it vexed theim of the middle age, beste luste, and theim not moch vnder 
that, and of complexions bote & raoiste, as fitteste by their naughty & moche 
subtiltie of blode to fede the spirites : or nigh and lyke to thesame in some one 
of the qualities, as cholerike in hete, phlegmatike in moister, excepte thother 
their qualities, as drinesse in cholerike, & cold in phlegmatike, by great dominion 
ouer thother, did lette. For the clene contrarie complexios to the infected aier, 
alwaies remaine helthful, saulfe and better then tofore, the corrupte and infected 
aier notwithstandyng. Therfore cold and drie persones either it touched not 
at all, or very fewe, and that Avyth no danger : such I say as beside their com- 
plexion, (Avhiche is so harde to finde in any man exacte and simple, as exacte 
helthes) were annoied with some corrupt humoures & spirites, & therfore mete 
by so moch to receiue it, & that by good reaso. For nothing can naturally 
haue power to do ought against any thing, excepte the same haue in it selfe a 
disposicion by like qualities to receiue it. As the cause in the fote canot 
trouble the flank and leue the knee (the mean betwixte) except there were a 
greater consent and likenes of nature in sufferance (whiche we call sy^npathian) 
betwixte those then thother. Nor fire refusynge stones, canne burne hardes, 
strawe, stickes and charcole, oile, waxe, fatte, and seacole, except these same 
first of al wer apte, and by conuenient qualities disposed to be enflaraed and 
burned. Nor any man goeth about to burne water, because the qualities thereof 
be contrary, and the body vndisposed to the like of fire. By whiche reason it 


may also be porceiued, that y' venemoiise qualitie of this corrupt aire is hote 
and moiste, for it redily enfectethe the lyke complexions, and those nigh vnto 
thsim, and the contrary not at all, or hardly : & easely doth putrify, as doe the 
Southe wyndes. Therfore next vnto those colde and diie C(3plexions, olde men 
escaped free, as like to theim by age : and children, as voide of replecion con- 
sumed by their great hete, and therefore alwaies redy to eate. But in this dis- 
ease the subtile humour euill and abundant in full bodies fedyng y' spirites, is 
moi'e to be noted then the humour complexional, whiche notwithstanding, as 
an helper or hinderer to y° same, is not to be neglected. For els it should be 
in all contries and persones indifferently, wher all complexiones be. The thirde 
and laste reason is, y' they which had thys sweat sore with perille or death, 
were either men of welthe, ease, & welfare, or of the poorer sorte such as wer 
idls persones, good ale drinkers, and Tauerne haunters. For these, by y" great 
welfare of the one sorte, and large drinkyng of thother, heped vp in their bodies 
moche euill matter : by their ease and idlenes, coulde not waste and consume 
it A confirmacion of this is, that the laborouse and thinne dieted people, 
either had it not, because they dyd eate but litle to make the matter : or with 
no greate grefe and danger, because they laboured out moche thereof. Where- 
fore vpon small cause, necessarily must folowe a smal effecte. All these reasones 
go to this ende, that persones of all contries of moderate and good diete, escape 
thys Enghshe Ephemera, and those be onely vexed therewith, whiche be of im- 
moderate and euill diete. But why ? for the euill humores and corrupte aier 
alone ? No, for the the pestilence and not the swet should rise. For what 
then? For y^ impure spirites corrupte in theim selues and by the infectiue aier. 
Why so ? for that of impure and corrupte humores, whether thei be blode or 
others, can rise none other then impure spirites. For euery thynge is suche as 
that whereof it commeth. Now, that of the beste and fineste of the blode, yea 
in corrupte bodies (whyche beste is nought) these spirites be ingendred and 
fedde, I before expressed. Therfor who wyl haue them pure and cleane, and 
him selfe free from sweat, muste kepe a pure and cleane diete, and then he 
shalbe sure. 

T/te p7'ese)-yacion. — Infection by the aier, and impure spirites by repletion 
thus founde and declared to be the causes of this pestilente sweate or Englishe 
ephemera, lette vs nowe see howe we maye preserue our selues from it, and 
howe it may be remedied, if it chaunce, wyth lesse mortalitie. I wyll begynne 
wyth preseruation. That most of all dothe stande in auoidyng the causes to 
come of the disease, the thinges helping forward the same, and remouyng 
that whiche is alredy had & gotten. Al be done by the good order of thynges 
perteynyng to the state of the body. Therfore I will begin with diete where 
I lefte, & then go furth with aier where I beganne in treatyng the causes, and 
declare the waie to auoide infection, and so furthe to the reste in order. Who 
that lustethe to lyue in quiete suretie, out of the sodaine danger of this Eng- 
lishe ephemera, he aboue all thynges, of litle and good muste eate & spare not, 
the laste parte wherof wyl please well (I doubt not) vs Englishe men : the 
firste I thinke neuer a deale. Yet it must please theim that entende to lyue 
without the reche of this disease. So doyng, they shall easely escape it. For 
of that is good, can be engendred no euill : of that is litl?, can be gathered no 
great store. Therfore helthful must he nedes be and free from this disease, 
that vsethe this kinde of liuynge and maner in dietynge. An example hereof 
may the wise man Socrates be, which by this sorte of diete escaped a sore pes- 
tilence in Athene^, neucr fleynge ne kepj-ng close him selfe from the same. 

THE SWEAT. ' 335 

Truly who will lyue accordynge to nature and not to lust, may witli this diets 
be well contented. For nature is pleased with a litle, nor seketh other then 
that the mind voide of cares and feares may be in quiete merily, and the body 
•voide of grefe, maye be in life swetly, as Lucretius writeth. Here at large to 
ronne out vntill my breth. wer spent, as vpon a common place, against y" in- 
temperace or excessiue diete of Englande, thincommodities & displeasures 
of the same many Avaies : and contrarie, in commedation of meane diete and 
temperance (called of Plato sophrosi/ne, for that it coserneth wisdome) and the 
thousande commodities therof, both for helthe, w'elthe, Vi'itte, and longe life, 
well I might, & lose my laboure : such be our Englishe facions rather then 
reasones. But for that I purpose neither to wright a longe worke but a shorte 
counseill, nor to wery the reders with that they luste not to here, I will lette 
that passe, and moue the that desire further to kuowe my mynde therin, to re- 
member that I sayd before, of litle & good eate and spare not, wherby they 
shall easely perceiue my meanyng. I therefore go furth with my diete, wher- 
in my counseill is, that the meates be helthfuU, and holsomly kylled, swetly 
saued, and wel prepared in rostyng, sethyng, baking, & so furth. The bred, 
of swet corne, wel leuened, and so baked. The drinke of swete malte and 
good water kyndly brued, without other drosse nowe a dales vsed. No 
wine in all the tyme of sweatyng, excepte to suche whose sickenes require it for 
medicin, for fere of inflamynge & openynge, nor except y° halfe be wel soden 
water. In other tymes, old, pure, & smal. Wisliig for the better executio 
hereof & ouersight of good and helthsome victalles, ther wer appointed cer- 
tain masters of helth in euery citie and toune, as there is in Italic, whiche 
for the good order in all thynges, maye be in al places an examj^le. The 
meates I would to be veale, muttone, kidde, olde lambe, chikyn, capone, henne, 
cocke, pertriche, phesane, felfare, smal birdes, pigeon, yong pecockes, whose 
flesh e by a certeine natural & secrete propertie neuer putrefie, as hath bene 
proued. Conies, porke of meane age, neither fatte nor leane, the skynne take 
awaye, roste, & eate colde : Tartes of prunes, gelies of veale & capone. Yong 
befe in this case a litle pondered is not to be dispraised, nor new egges & 
good milke. Butter in a mornyng with sage and rewe fastjmge in the sweat- 
ynge tyme, is a good preseruatiue, beside that it nourisheth. Crabbes, craues- 
ses, picrel, perche, ruffe, gogion, lampreis out of grauelly riuers, smeltes, dace, 
barbell, gornerd, whit)Tig, soles, flunders, plaice, millers thumbes, minues, w* 
such, others, sodde in water & vinegre w' rosemary time, sage, & hole maces, & 
serued bote. Yea swete salte fishe and linge, for the saltes sake wastynge y' 
humores therof, which in many freshe fishes remaine, maye be allowed well 
watered to the that haue none other, & wel lyke it. Nor all fishes, no more 
then al fleshes be so euil as they be take for : as is wel declared in physik, & 
approued by the olde and Avise romaines moche in their fisshes, lusty char- 
tusianes neuer in fleshes, & helthful poore people more in fishe then fleshe. 
But we are nowe a dales so vnwisely fine, and womanly delicate, that we may 
in no wise touch a fisshe. The olde manly hardnes, stoute courage, & pein- 
fulnes of Englande is vtterly driuen awaye, in the stede wherof, men now a 
dales recieve womanlines, & become nice, not able to withstande a blaste of 
wjTide, or resiste a poore fishe. And children be so brought vp, that if they 
be not all dale by the fire with a toste and butire, and in their furres, they be 
streight sicke. 

Sauces to metes I appoint firste aboue all thynges good appetite, and 
next Oliues, capers, iuse of lemones, Barberies, Pomegranetes, Orenges and 


Sorel, veriuse, & vineigre, iuse of vnripe Grapes, thepes or Goseberies. After 
mete, quinces, or marmalade, Pomegranates, Orenges sliced eaten with Suger, 
Succate of the pilles or barkes therof, and of jjomecitres, olde apples and pares. 
Prunes, Reisons, Dates & Xuttes. Figges also, so they be taken before diner, 
els no frutes of that yere, nor rawe herbes or rotes in sallattes, for that in suche 
times they be suspected to be partakers also of the enfected aire. 

Of aire so much I hau3 spoken before, as apperteinethe to the declaration 
of enfection therby. Nowe I wyl aduise and counseill howe to kepe the same 
pure, for somoche as may be, or lesse enfected, and correcte the same coiTupte. 
The first is done in takynge a way y" causes of enfectio. The seconde, by 
doynge in all pointes the contrary thereto. Take awaye the causes we maye, 
in damnyng diches, auoidynge carios, lettyng in open aire, shunning suche 
euil mistes as before I spake of, not openynge or sturrynge euill brethynge 
places, landynge muddy and rotte groundes, burieng dede bodyes, kepyng 
canelles cleane, sinkes & eas}Tig places sweat, remouynge dongehilles, boxe and 
euil sauouryng thynges, enhabitynge high & open places, close towarde the 
sowthe, shutte toward the winde, as reason wil & thexperience of J/, varro in 
the pestilece at Corcyra confirmethe. Correcte in doyng the contrary we shall, 
in dryenge the moiste with fyres, either in houses or chambers, or on that side 
the cities, townes, & houses, that lieth toward the infection and wynde com- 
myng together, chefely in mornynges & eueninges, either by burnyng the 
stubble in the felde, or windfallynges in the woodes, or other wise at 
pleasure. By which policie skilful Acron deliuered Athenes in Gretia, and 
diuine Hippocrates abderd in Thratia fro y° pestilece, & preserued fro the same 
other the cities in Grece, at diuerse times coyng with the wynde fro (Ethiopia, 
illyria ^~ jjceonia, by putting to the fires wel smelling garlades, floures & 
odoures, as Galene and Soranus write. Of like 2)ollicie for purgjTig the aier 
were the bonfires made (as I suppose) fro long time hetherto vsed in y'' middes 
of sommer, and not onely for vigiles. In cofortyng the spirites also, and by 
alterynge the aier with swete odoures of roses, swet perfumes of the same, 
rosemary leaues, bales, and white sanders cutte, afewe cloues steped in rose 
water and vinegre rosate, the infection shalbe lesse noious. With the same 
you maye also make you a swete house in castynge it abrode therin, if firste 
by auoidynge the russhes and duste, you make the house clene. Haue alwaies 
in your handcercher for your nose and mouth, bothe with in your house and 
without, either the perfume before saide, or vinegre rosate : and in your mouth 
apece either of setwel, or of the rote oietiida campana wel steped before in vinegre 
rosate, a mace, or berie of Juniper, In wante of suche perfumes as is before- 
saide, take of mirrhe & drie rose leues of eche a lyke quantite, with a little 
franke encense, for the like purpose, and caste it vpon the coles : or burne 
Juniper & their beries. And for so moche as clenelines is a great help to 
helthe, mine aduise is, that all your clothes be swete smelljTige and clene, and 
that you wasshe your handes and face not in warme water, but with rose water 
and vinegre rosate colde, or elles Avith the faire water and vinegre wherein the 
pilles or barkes of orenges and pomegranates are sodden : or the pilles of pome- 
citres & sorel is boiled : for so you shalle close the pores ayenst the ayre, that it 
redily entre not, and cole and tempre those partes so wasshed, accordynge to the 
right entente in curynge this disease. For in al the discurse, preseruatio, and 
cure of thys disease, the chefe marke & purpose is, to minister suche thynges as 
of their nature haue the facultie by colyng diyenge and closyng, to resists 
putrefaction, strength and defende the spirites, comforte the harte, and kepe all 


the body ayenst the displeasure of the corrupte aire. Wherfor it shal be wel done, 
if you take of this coposition folowyng euery mornyng the weight of ij. d. in vi. 
sponefulles of water or iuleppe of Sorel, & cast it vpon your nieate as pepper. R 
sels citri. acetos. ros. rub. sadal. citrin. an. 3 i, boli armeni orietal. 3 i. s, terr. sigil. 
5 s, margarit. 5 i, fol. auri puri. n°. iiij, misce. & f. puL diuidatur ad pod. 5 s. Or 
in the stede of this, take fasting the quantitie of a small bene oi Mithridatum or 
Uenice triacle in asponeful of Sorel, or Scabious water, or by the selfe alone. And 
in goyng abrode, haue in youre hande either an handekercher with vinegre 
and rose water, or a litle muske balle of nutmegges, maces, cloues, safFro, & 
cinamome, of eche the weight of ij. d. finely beate ; of mastike the weight of 
ij. d. ob. of storax, v. d. of ladane x. d. of Ambre grise vi. graines, of Muske 
iii. graines dissolued in ryght Muscadel : temper al together, & make a balle. 
In want of 3Iithridatum or suche other as I haue before mencioned, vse dayly 
the Sirupes of Pomegranates, Lemones, and Sorell, of eche half an vnce, with 
asmuche of the watres of Tormentille, Sorell, and Dragones, fasting in the 
morning, and one houre before supper. A toste in vinegre or veriuse of Grapes, 
with a litle poulder of Cinamome and Settewelle caste vppon it. Or two 
figges with one nutte carnelle, and tenne leaues of rue in eche, and a litle salt. 
Or boutire, rue, and sage, with breade in a morning eaten nexte your harte, be 
as good preseruatiues, as theie be easye to be hadde. These preseruatives I 
here appoincte the more willingly among many others further to be fetched, 
because these maye easelier be hadde, as at hande in niede, which now to 
finde is my most endeuour, as moste fruictfuUe to whome I write. And this 
to be done I counsaille in the sickenesse tyme, when firste you heare it to be 
comming and begonne, but not in the fitte. Alwayes remembryng, not to go 
out fastinge. For as Cornelius Celsus wrytethe, Uenime or infection taketh 
holde muche soner in a bodye yet fasting, then in the same not fastinge. Yet 
this is not so to be vnderstande, that in the mornynge we shal streight as our 
clothes be on, stuffe our bellies as fulle as Englishe menne, (as the Frenche 
man saieth to our shames.) but to be contente with oure preseruatiues, or with 
a little meate bothe at breakefaste (if custome and nede so require) dynner and 
supper. For other wise nature, if the disease shoulde take vs, shoulde haue 
more a doe aganiste the full bealy and fearce disease, then it were able to 

Aftre diete and ayer followethe filling or emptieng. Of filling in the name 
of repletio I spake before. Of eptieng, I will now shortely write as of a thing 
very necessary for the conseruation of mannes healthe. For if that whiche is 
euel within, be not by good meanes & wayes wel fet oute, it often times destroy- 
eth the lyfe. Good meanes to fet out the euelle stufFe of the body be two, 
abstinence, & auoydance. 

Abstinence, in eatynge and drinckynge litle, as a lytle before I sayed, and 
seldome. For so, more goeth awaie then comethe, and by litle and litle it 
■vrasteth the humours & drieth. Therfore (as I wiene) throughe the counseil 
of Phisike, & by the good ciuile, & politique ordres, tedring the wealth of 
many so much geue to their bellies to their own hurtes & damages, not able 
for wat of reaso to rule the selues, & therby enclined to al vices and diseases : 
for thauoiding of these same, increase of vertue, witte and health, sauing 
victualles, making plenty, auoyding lothesomenesse or wearinesse, by chaunge, 
in taking sometime of that in the sea, and not alwaies destroieng y' of the 
lande, an ordre (without the whiche nothing can stand) and comon wealth, 
dayes of abstinence, and fasting were firste made, and not for religion onely. 



Auoidance, because it canot be safely done withoute the healpe of a good 
Phisicien, I let passe here, expressing howe it shoulde bee done duelye accord- 
inge to the nature of the disease and the estate of the personne, in an other 
booke made by me in Latine, vppon this same matter and disease. Who 
therfore lusteth to see more, let him loke vpon that boke. Yet here thus 
much wil I say, that if after euacuation or auoiding of humors, the pores of 
the skinne remaine close, and y? sweating excrement in the tleshe continueth 
grosse (-whiche thinge howe to know, hereafter I wDl declare) then rubbe you 
the person meanly at home, & bathe him in faire water sodden with Fenel, 
Chainemil, Rosemarye, Mallowes, & Lauendre, & last of al, powre water half 
colde ouer al his body, and so dry him, & clothe him. Al these be to be don a 
litle before y' end of y° spring, that the humours may be seatled, and at rest, 
before the time of the sweting, whiche cometh comonly in somer, if it cometh 
at al. For tlie tormoiling of the body in that time when it ought to be most 
quiete, at rest, and armed against his enemy, liketh me not beste here, no more 
then in the pestilence. Yet for the presente nede, if it be so thoughte good 
to a learned and discrete Phisicien, I condescend the rather. For as in thys, 
so in alle others before rehearsed, I remytte you to the discretion of a learned 
manne in phisike, who maye iudge what is to be done, and how, according to 
the present estate of youre bodies, nature, custome, and proprety, age, strength, 
delyghte and qualitie, tyme of the yeare, with other circumstaunces, and there- 
after to geue the quantitie, and make diuersitie of hys medicine. Other wise 
loke not to receiue by this boke that good which I entend, but that euel which 
by your owne foly you vndiscretelye bring. For good counseil may be abused. 
And for me to write of euery particular estate and case, whiche be so manye as 
there be menne, were so great almost a busines, as to numbre the sandes in 
the sea. Therfore seke you out a good Phisicien, and knowen to haue skille, 
and at the leaste be so good to your bodies, as you are to your hosen or shoes, 
for the wel making or mending wherof, I doubt not but you wil diligently 
searche out who is knowe to be the best hosier or shoemaker in the place 
where you dwelle : and flie the vnlearned as a pestilence in a comune wealth. 
As simple women, carpenters, pewterers, brasiers, sopeballesellers, pulters, 
hostellers, painters, apotecaries (otherwise then for their drogges), auaunters 
the selues to come from Pole, Constantinople, Italic, Almaine, Spaine, Fraunce, 
Grece and Turkic, Inde, Egipt or Jury : from y" seruice of Emperoures, kinges 
& quienes, promising helpe of al diseases, yea vncurable, with one or twoo 
drinckes, by waters sixe monethes in continualle distillinge, by Aurum potabile, 
or quintessence, by drynckes of great and hygh prices, as though thei were made 
of the sune, moone, or sterres, by blessynges and Blowinges, Hipocriticalle 
prayenges, and foolysh smokynges of shirtes Smockes and kerchieffes, wyth 
suche others theire phantasies, and mockeryes, meaninge nothinge els but to 
abuse your light belieue, and scorne you behind your backes with their medi- 
cines (so filthie, that I am ashamed to name theim) for your single wit and 
simple belief, in trusting the most, whiche you know not at al, and vnderstad 
least : like to them whiche thinke, farre foules haue faire fethers, althoughe 
thei be neuer so euel fauoured & foule : as thoughe there coulde not be so con- 
ning an Englishman, as a foolish running stranger, (of others I speake not) or 
so perfect helth by honest learning, as by deceiptfull ignorance. For in the 
erroure of these vnlerned, reasteth the losse of your honest estimation, diere 
bloudde, precious spirites, and swiete lyfe, the thyng of most estimation and 
price in this worlde, next vnto the immortal soule. 


For consuming of euel matter ■withine, and for making our bodies lustye, 
galiard, & helthful, I do not a litle comende exercise, whiche in vs Engiishe 
men I allowe quick, and liuishe : as to runne after houndes and haukes, to 
shote, wrastle, play at Tenes and weajoons, tosse the winde balle, skirmishe at 
base (an exercise for a gentlemanne, muche vsed among the Italianes,) and 
vaughting vpon an horse. Bowling, a good excercise for women : castinge of 
the barre and cam^Ding, I accompt rather a laming of legges, then an exercise. 
Yet I vtterly reproue theim not, if the hurt may be auoyded. For these a 
conueniente tyme is, before meate : due measure, reasonable sweatinge, in al 
times of the yeare, sauing in the sweatinge tyme. In the whiche I allow rather 
quietnesse then exercise, for opening the body, in suche persons specially as 
be liberally & freely brought vp. Others, except sitting artificers, haue theire 
exercises by daily labours in their occupatios, to whom nothing niedeth but 
solace onely, a thing conuenient for euery bodye that lusteth to line in helth. 
For els as no other thing, so not healthe canne be longe durable. Thus I 
speake of solace, that I meane not Idlenesse, wisshing alwayes no man to be 
idle, but to be occupied in some honest kinde of thing necessary in a comon 
welth. Tor I accompt the not worthi meate & drink in a como welth, y' be 
not good for some purpose or seruice therin, but take the rather as burdennes 
vuprofitable and heauye to the yearth, men borne to fille a numbre only, and 
wast the frutes whiche therthe doeth grue, willing soner to fiede the Lacede- 
monians old & croked asse, whiche labored for the lining so long as it coulde 
for age, then suche an idle Englisshe manne. If the honestye and profite of 
honeste labour and exercise, conseruation of healthe, preseruation from sicke- 
nesse, maintenaunce of lyfe, aduancement, safety from shamefuU deathes, 
defence from beggerye, dyspleasures by idlenesse, shamefulle diseases by the 
same, hatefulle vices, and punishemente of the immortalle soule, canne not 
moue vs to reasonable laboure and excercise, and to be profitable membres of 
the commune welthe, let at the least shame moue vs, seyng that other country 
menne, of nought, by their owne witte, diligence, labour and actiuitie, can 
picke oute of a cast bone, a wrethen strawe, a lyghte fether, or an hard stone, an 
honeste lyuinge : Nor ye shal euer heare theym say, alas master, I haue no 
occupacio, I must either begge or steale. For they can finde other meanes 
betwene these two. And forsomuche as in the case that nowe is, miserable 
persons are to be relieued in a comon welth, I would wisshe for not fauouring 
the idle, the discretion of Marc. Cicero the romaine were vsed in healping them : 
Who wolde compassion should be shewed vpon them, whome necessitie 
compelled to do or make a faute : & no copassion vpon them, in whome a 
faulte made necessitie. A faulte maketh necessitie, in this case of begging, in 
them, whyche might laboure and serue, & wil not for idlenes : and therfore 
not to be pitied, but rather to be punished. Necessitie maketh a fault in the, 
whiche wold labor and serue, but canot for age, ipotecy, or sickenes, and ther- 
fore to be pitied & relieued. But to auoyde punishmente & to shew the waye 
to amendmente, I would again wishe, y' forsomuch as we be so euel disposed 
of our selfes to our own profites and comodities with out help, this old law 
were renued, which forbiddeth the nedy & impotent parentes, to be releued of 
those their welthi chyldren, that by thejTn or theire meanes were not broughte 
vppe, eyther in good learning and Science, or honeste occupation. For so is 
a man withoute science, as a realme withoute a kyng. Thus muche of exercise, 
and for exercise. To the which I wolde now ioyne honeste companye betwene 
man and woman, as a parte of natural exercise, and healpe to y° emptieng & 

22 * 


lightning the bodye in other tymes allowed, in this sweating tyme for heltlies 
sake, & for feare of opening the bodye, and resoluing the spirites, not ap- 
proued, but for dout, that w' lengthing the boke, I shold wery y' reader. 
Therfore I let y' passe & come to sleping & waking, whiche without good 
ordre, be gretly hurtful to the bodie. For auoiding the whiche, I take the 
meane to be best, and against this sweat moste commendable. But if by ex- 
cesse a man must in eyther part offend, I permit rather to watch to muche, 
then to lie in bedde to longe : so that in watchinge, there be no way to surfet- 
ting. Al these thinges duely obserued, and well executed, whiche before I 
haue for preseruation mencioned, if more ouer we can sette a parte al affections, 
as fretting cares & thoughtes, dolefull or sorowfuU imaginations, vaine feares, 
folysh loues, gnawing hates, and geue oure selues to lyue quietly, frendlie, & 
merily one with an outher, as men were wont to do in the old world, whe this 
countrie was called merye Englande, and euery man to medle in his own mat- 
ters, thinking theim sufficient, as thei do in Italye, and auoyde malyce and 
dissencion, the destruction of commune wealthes, and priuate houses : I doubte 
not but we shall preserue oure selues, bothe from this sweatinge syckenesse> 
and other diseases also not here purposed to be spoken of. 

The cure or remedy. — But if in leauinge a parte these or some of them, or 
negligently executing them, it chaunceth the disease of sweating to trouble our 
bodies, then passinge the bondes and compasse of preseruation, we must come 
to curation, the way to remedie the disease, & the third and last parte (as I 
first sayed) to be entreated in this boke. The principalle entente herof, is to 
let out the venime by sweate accordinge to the course of nature. This is 
brought to passe safely two waies, by suffring and seruing handsomly nature, 
if it thruste it oute readily and kindely : and helping nature, if it be letted, or 
be weake in expeUinge. Serue nature we shall, if in what time so euer it taketh 
vs, or what so euer estate, we streyghte lay vs downe vppon oure bedde, yf we 
be vp and in oure clothes, not takyinge them of : or lie stille, if we be in bed 
out of our clothes, laiyng on clothes both wayes, if we wante, reasonably, and 
not loadinge vs therewith vnmeasurably. Thus layed and couered, we must 
endeuoure our selues so to continue wyth al quietnes, & for so much as may be 
without feare, distruste, or faintehartednesse, an euel thinge in al diseases. 
For suche surrendre and geue ouer to the disease without resistence. By 
whiche occasion manye more died in the fyrste pestilence at Athenes, that I 
spake of in the beginnynge of thys boke, then other wyse should. Oure kepers, 
friendes and louers, muste also endeuoure theym selues to be handesome and 
dilygente aboute vs, to serue vs redilye at al turnes, and neuer to leaue vs 
duringe foure and twentie houres, but to loke welle vnto vs, that neyther we 
caste of oure clothes, nor thruste out hande or foote, duryng the space of the 
saide foure and twenty houres. For albeit the greate daungere be paste after 
twelue houres, or fourtene, the laste of trial, yet many die aftre by to muche 
boldenes, when thei thinke theim selues most in suretye, or negligence in at- 
tendaunce, when they thinke no necessitie. Wherby it is proued that without 
dout, the handsome diligence, or carelesse negligence, is the sauing, or casting 
awaye of many. If ij. be taken in one bed, let theym so continue, althoughe it 
be to their vnquietnesse. For feare wherof, & for the more quietnesse & 
safetye, very good it is duryng all the sweating time, that two persones lye not 
in one bed. If with this quietnes, diligece, and ordre, the sicke do kindelye 
sweate, suffre them so to continue, without meate all the xxiiij. houres: with- 
oute drincke, vntil the fifth houre, if it male be. Alwayes taking hede to theim 


in the fourth, seuenth, nineth, & eleuenth houres- speciallye, and fourteenth 
also, as the laste of triall and daungler, but of lesse in bothe. For these be 
most perilous, as I haue obserued this yere in this disease, hauing y' houres 
iudicial, as others haue theire dayes, and therfore worse to geue anye thinge in, 
for troublyng nature standyng in trialle. Yet wher more daunger is in for- 
bearyng then in takyng, I counseill not to spare in these howres to do as the 
case requireth with wisdome & discretion, but lesse then in other howres. In 
the fifthe howre geue theim to drinke clarified ale made only doulcet with a 
litle sugar, out of a cruet, or glasse made in cruet facion, with a nebbe, for 
feare of raisynge theim selues to receiue the drinke offered, & so to let the 
sweat, by the ayer strikyng in. But if the sicke on this wise beforesaid canot 
sweate kyndly, then nature must be holpen, as I sayd before. And for so moch 
. as sweat is letted in this disease fower waies, by disorder, wekenes of nature, 
closenes of the pores in the skinne, & grosnes of the humoures : my counseil is 
to auoide disorder by suche meanes as hetherto I haue taught, and next to open 
the pores if they be close, and make thinne the matter, if it be grosse, and pro- 
uoke sweat, if nature be weke. Those you shal doe by gentle rubbynges, this 
by warme drinckes as hereafter streight I will declare. And for that euery 
man hath not the knowlege to discerne which of these is the cause of let in 
sweatyng, I wil shewe you plainly howe to do with moste suretie and leste of- 
fense. I wyll beginne with wekenes of nature. Therefore remember well that 
in treatynge the causes of this disease, I sayed that this sweate chauncethe 
comonly in theim of the mydde age and beste luste, the infection hauyng a cer- 
tein concordance, or conuenience with the corrupte spirites of theim more then 
others. Knowe agayne that nature is weke, ij. waies, either in the selfe, or by 
the annoiance of an other. In the selfe, by wante of strength consumed by 
sicknes or other wise. By annoiaunce of an other, when nature is so ouerlaid 
with the quantitie of euill humours that it can not stirre. Betwene thes two 
set youre witte, and se whether the perso be lustye or sickly. If he be lustye, 
vnderstande that the sweat doth not stoppe for wekenes of nature in it selfe. 
Then of necessitie it must be for some of thother causes. But for whiche, thus 
knowe. Consider whether the lusty person were in foretyme geuen to moche 
drynkyng, eatyng and rauenyng, to moch ease, to no exercise or bathinges in 
his helth, or no. If all these you finde in him, knowe that bothe nature is 
wekened by the annoiance of the humoures, and that the skinne is stopped, and 
the humoure grosse, and that for thys the sweate is letted. If you finde onely 
some of these, and that rauenynge, annoiance is the cause. If want of exercise 
or bathinges, stoppinges of the pores and closenesse, or grosenes of humours, 
or bothe, be the cause of not sweatying. On the othersyde, if the perso be 
sickely, it is easely knowe that his wekenes consisteth in nature the self. And 
for so moche as weke folkes and sicke shal also by other causes not sweate, con- 
sider if in his sickenes he hath swette moche or no, or hath be disposed to it 
and coulde not. If he neither hath swette, nor coulde sweat disposed, knowe 
that closenes of the skinne, and grosenes of the humour is the cause. Ther- 
fore euery thing in his kynde muste be remedied, Wekenes of nature, by 
drinkes prouokyng sweate : closenes, & grosenes, by rubbynge, as I said. But 
be ware neither to rubbe or geue drinkes, excepte you see cause as beforesayd. 
For other wise, the one hindrethe nature, and thother letteth out the spirites & 
wasteth y' strength. Therefore accordyngly, if rubbe you must, geue to the 
sicke in to their beddes a newe and somewhat harde kerchefe, well warmed but 
not hote, and bydde theim rubbe all their bodies ouer therewith vnder the 


clothes, neither to moche neither to litle, nor to harde or to softe, but meanely 
betwene, takj'ng you hede whiche be aboute them, that by stirrynge their armes 
they raise not the clothes to let in the ayer. This done, if case so require, 
geue the a good draught of bote possette ale made of swiete milke turned with 
vinegre, in a quarte wherof percely, and sage, of eche haulfe one litle handful! 
hath been sodden, wyth iii. sliftes of rosemary, ii. fenel rootes cutte, and a fewe 
hole maces. Alwaies remembrynge here, as in other places of this boke, to 
heate the herbes in a peuter dishe before the fyre, or washe theim in bote water, 
before you putte them in to the posset ale, and that you putte their to no colde 
herbes at any tyme durynge the hole fitte. Or geue theim posset ale bote with 
rosemary, dittane, & germander. Or bale beries, anise seades, & calamintes 
with claret wine sodden and dronke warme. Or white wine with hore and 
wilde tansy growen in medes sodden therin, and ii. d. weight of good 
triacle, dronke bote, or in y' stede of that, wilde tanesy, mogwort or feuerfue. 
These prouoke sweat, may easely be hadde, & be metest for the which haue al 
y' causes beforesayde of lettyng thesame. But specially if for colde and grose 
humoures, or for closenes of the skinne, the sweate commethe not furthe. If 
with one draught they sweate not, geue theim one other, or ij. successiuely, after 
halfe one houre betwene, and encrease the clothes, first a litle aboue the meane, 
after, more or lesse as the cause requireth, & make a litle fke in the chamber of 
clene woode, as ashe & oke, with the perfume of bdellium : or swiet woode, as 
Juniper , fp're, or pine, by theimselues : remembrynge to withdrawe the fire, 
when they sweat fully, and the clothes aboue the meane, by litle and Ktle as 
you laide theim on, when they firste complaine of faintyng. And after xii. or 
xiiii. houres, some also of the meane, but one after an other by halfe one houre 
successiuely with discrecion, alwaies not lokyng so moche to the quantitie of 
the sweat, as what the sicke may saufely beare. And in suche case of faintynge, 
suffer competent open aier to come into the chamber, if the same and the wether 
be bote, for smoderynge the pacient, by suche windowes as the wynde liethe not 
in, nor openeth to the south. Put to their noses to smell vinegre and rose 
water in an handkercher, not touchynge theim there with so nighe as maye be. 
Cause theim to lie on their right side, and bowe theim sclues forward, caU theim 
by their names, and beate theim with a rosemary braunche, or some other 
swete like thynge. In the stede of posset ale, they whiche be troubled with 
gowtes, dropsies, reumes, or suche other moiste euill diseases, chauncing ta 
sweat, may drinke a good draught of the stronger drinke of Guaiacum so hote 
as they can, for the lyke effecte, as also others may, not hauynge these deseases, 
if it be so redy to theim as the other. After they ones sweat fully, myne aduise 
is not to geue any more posset ale, but clarified ale with suger, duryng the hole 
fitte, neither vnreasonably, nor so ofte as they call for it, neither yet pinchyng 
theym to moche when they haue nede, alwayes takynge hede not to putte any 
colde thynge in their mouthe to cole and moiste them with, nor any colde water, 
rose water, or colde vinegre to their face duryng the sweat and one dale after at 
the leaste, but alwaies vse warmeth accordynge to nature, neuer contrariyng 
thesame so nighe as may be. If they raue or be phrenetike, putte to their nose 
thesame odour of rose water & vinegre, to lette the vapoures from the headde. 
If they slepe, vse theim as in the case of faintyng I said, with betyng theim and 
callynge theim, pulljnig theim by the eares, nose, or here, sufi"ering them in no 
wise to slepe vntil suche tyme as they haue no luste to slepe, except to a learned 
ma in phisicke the case appere to beare the contrary. For otherwise the venime 
in slepe continually runneth inward to y" hart. The contrary hereof we muste 


alwaies intende, in prouokyng it outwarde by all meanes durjTig the fitte, 
whyche so longe lasteth in burnynge and sweatyng, as the matter thereof hath 
any fyrie or apte partes therfore. For as great & strong wine, ale, or here, so 
longe do burne as there is matter in theim apte to be burned, and then cesse 
when that whiche remainethe is come againe to hys firste nature : that is, to 
suche water clere & vnsauery, as either the bruer receiued of the riuer, or vine 
of the earth : euen so the body so longe continuethe burnynge and sweatynge, 
as their is matter apte therefore in the spirites, and then leaueth, when the cor- 
rupcion taken of the finest of the euill blode is consumed, and the spirites lefte 
pure and cleane as they were before the tyme of their corruption. 

This done, and the body by sufficient sweate discharged of the venime, the 
persone is saulfe. But if be by vnrulines & brekyng his sweate, sweateth not 
sufficiently, the he is in daunger of death by y' venime that doth remaine, or at 
the leaste to sweate ones againe or oftener, as many hath done, fallynge in thrise, 
sixe tymes, yea, xii. times some. If sufficiently the sweate be come, you shal 
know by the lightnes & cherefulnes of the body, & lanckenes in all partes, by 
the continuall sweatyng the hole dale and out of all partes, whyche be the beste 
and holsome sweates. The other which come but by tymes and onely in certein 
partes, or broken, be not sufficient nor good, but very euill, of whose insuffi- 
ciency, ij. notes learne : a swellyng in y'' partes with a blackenes, & a tinglyng 
or prickjTig in the same. Suche I aduise to appointe theim selues to sweat 
againe to ridde their bodies of that remaineth, & abide it out vntill they fele 
their bodies lanke & light, and to moue the sweat as before I said, if thesame 
come not kyndly by the selfe. If they canot forbeare meate during y° space of 
their fitte, and faste out their xxiiij. houres, without danger, geue theim a litle 
of an alebrie onely, or of a thinne caudel of an egge sodden with one hole mace 
or ij. If they be forced by nature to ease them selues in the meane time, let 
them do it rather in warme shetes put into them closely, then to arise. After 
they haue thus fully swette, conuey closely warme clothes into theyre beddes, 
and bid them wipe themselues there with in al partes curiouslye : and be ware 
that no ayer entre into theire open bodies (and speciallye their arme holes, the 
openest & rarest parte therof) to let the issue of that whych doeth remaine. The 
lyke may be done in the reste of their fitte, with lyke warenes, for that clenli- 
nesse comfortethe nature, and relieueth the pacient. If in duringe oute the 
foure and twentye houres there be thought daungiere of death without remou- 
ing, rather warme well the other side of the bedde, and wil hym to remoue 
himself into it, the to take him vp & remoue hym to an other bed, which in no 
case mai be done. For better is a doubtful ware hope, then a certeine auen- 
tured death. The foure and twenty houres passed duly, they may putte on 
theire clothes warme, aryse, and refresshe theym selues with a cawdle of an 
egge swietelye made, or such other meates and sauces reasonably and smally 
taken, as before I mencioned. And if their strength be sore wasted, let theym 
smelle to an old swiet apple (as Aristotle did by his reporte in the boke de po7no) 
or hotte new bread, as Democritus did, by the record of Laertius in his life, either 
by it self alone, or dipped in wel smelling wyne, as Maluesey or Muscadelle, & 
sprinckled with the ponder of mintes. Orenges also and Lemones, or suche 
muske balles as I before described, bethinges mete for this purpose. For as I 
saied in my ij. litle bokes in Latine de medendi methodo, of deuise to cure dis- 
eases, there is no thinge more comfortable to the spirites then good and swiet 
odoures. On this wise aduised how to order your selues in al the time of the 
fitte, now this remaineth, to exhorte you not to go out of your houses for iij. 


dayes, or ij. at the least after the fitte passed, and then wiselye, warely, and not 
except in a faire bright daye, for feare of swouning after great emptinesse, and 
vnw'ont ayer, or for forcyng nature by soubdaine strikyng in of thesame aier, 
colde, or euil, in to the open body. For nature so forced, maketh often tymes 
a sore and soubdaine fluxe, as wel after auoidaunce of these humores by 
sweate, (as Avas this yere well sene in many persones in diuerse contries of Eng- 
lande for none other cause) as of others by purgation. 

Thus I haue declared the begynning, name, nature, accidentes, signes, causes, 
preseruations, and cures naturall of this disease the sweatynge sickenes, Eng- 
lish Ephemera, or pestilent sweate, so shortly & plainly as I could for y' comune 
saufty of my good countrimen, help, relieue, & defence of thesame against y' 
soubdaine assaultes of the disease, & to satisfie the honeste requeste of my 
louynge frendes and gentle acquaintance. If other causes ther be supernatural, 
theim I leue to the diuines to serche, and the diseases thereof to cure, as a 
matter with out the compasse of my facultie. 


i\ \